Empowered Aims to Launch Bitcoin ETFs Under ARK, 21Shares Brand

Three proposed funds will be subadvised by ARK and sub-subadvised by 21Shares.

Finance Reporter
Reviewed by: Lisa Barr
Edited by: Ron Day

Empowered Funds is seeking to launch three bitcoin futures ETFs using the ARK Invest Management and 21Shares brands, as firms look to tap into investor demand for cryptocurrency products.  

Empowered is a subsidiary of Alpha Architect, which offers 15 ETFs with nearly $1.9 billion in assets. The firm filed to issue the exchange-traded funds with the SEC earlier this month and will be the advisor to the funds. 21Shares and ARK, which have teamed up on other bitcoin ETF applications, will perform subadvisor roles. 

Firms like BlackRock Inc., Fidelity, and Invesco have been rushing to roll out digital asset ETF products as the Securities and Exchange Commission faces mounting pressure to greenlight an array of cryptocurrency funds. The Empowered fund filings come as a slew of firms, including ARK and 21Shares, await approval for a spot bitcoin ETF. Empowered is seeking to launch ETFs that track bitcoin futures contracts, as opposed to spot ETFs that track physical bitcoin.  

Bitcoin ETFs on the Horizon 

The ARK 21Shares Active Bitcoin Futures ETF will invest in bitcoin futures contracts and serve as the underlying fund for the other two products set to launch. The ARK 21Shares Active On-Chain Bitcoin Strategy ETF will allocate at least 25% of its assets in its Digital Asset and Blockchain Strategy ETF. The third ETF, the ARK 21Shares Digital Asset and Blockchain Strategy ETF, will also invest in the Active Bitcoin Futures ETF. The funds can also invest in Treasury securities, according to their prospectus.  

While investors are anticipating a spot bitcoin decision, other firms are taking advantage of increased interest in the space to launch new products. The first and largest futures bitcoin fund is the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), which has $955 million in assets. 

ProShares saw significant first-mover benefits by being the first to launch a bitcoin futures ETF, seeing millions in deposits on the first day it hit the market. Some speculate the SEC will approve multiple spot bitcoins at once to avoid one firm getting the vast majority of market share. 


Contact Lucy Brewster at [email protected] 

Lucy Brewster is a finance reporter at etf.com covering asset managers, emerging technologies, and regulation. She hosts etf.com webinars and appears on Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s flagship podcast. She previously was a finance fellow at Fortune Magazine where she covered markets, investment strategy, and venture capital. She has also been a freelancer writer at the publication Mergers & Acquisitions and a research fellow at the Historic Hudson Valley. 

She graduated from Vassar College in 2022 with a degree in History and was an editor of The Miscellany News, the college's award winning student run newspaper. 

Lucy lives in Brooklyn, NY, and in her free time she loves to run and find new recipes to cook.