It’s a cryptocurrency tale of haves and have-nots: U.S. investors are still pining for a bitcoin ETF, while investors elsewhere are being inundated with bitcoin exchange-traded funds.
The divergent picture comes down to differences in regulation. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has taken a skeptical approach toward bitcoin ETFs since the first attempt at launching one sprang up in 2013.
In contrast, the commission’s global counterparts have been much more permissive, allowing, in some cases, multiple bitcoin products onto their markets.
Just this week, a host of crypto products were listed in Europe, adding to the extensive list of exchange-traded products already available on the continent.
Earlier this year, the United States’ neighbor to the north, Canada, allowed the first bitcoin ETF to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and a steady stream of competing funds have followed suit.
Naturally, most investors would prefer to invest in an ETF listed domestically. It’s usually easier to purchase these funds compared to internationally listed alternatives (which can be onerous to buy, if they can be bought at all).
That’s why U.S. investors have tended to gravitate toward unlisted U.S. alternatives to get their hands on something similar to a bitcoin ETF. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) is the largest of these—a quasiclosed-end fund that trades over the counter and is quoted on the OTCQX.
GBTC is not an ETF by any means, but it can be bought and sold through a U.S. brokerage account as simply as a U.S.-listed ETF—a feature that, for many investors, makes up for the fact that the product often trades at large premiums and discounts to its net asset value.
For some U.S. investors, GBTC is preferable to the many international bitcoin ETFs available because the latter can be difficult to get ahold of. Major U.S. brokerages typically require special accounts to trade international securities, a category that includes bitcoin ETFs listed in Canada, Europe and elsewhere.
But for investors with these accounts, buying an international bitcoin ETF is an option, and could offer a superior experience to the more unpredictable GBTC and its ilk.
For investors in other countries, if it’s an option, domestically listed bitcoin ETFs are generally the easiest to buy. Otherwise, the same considerations as those of U.S. investors apply—a special account may be necessary to purchase internationally listed bitcoin products.
See the table below for a list of the currently available bitcoin ETFs. If needed, contact your broker or financial advisor for information on how to trade these products and the risks associated with them.
|Fund||Ticker||AUM (million $USD)||Country Of Listing|
|Bitcoin Tracker EUR||COINXBE||1,136.8||Sweden|
|3iQ CoinShares Bitcoin ETF||BTCQ||945.7||Canada|
|Bitcoin Tracker One - SEK||COINXBT||729.4||Sweden|
|Purpose Bitcoin ETF||BTCC||699.4||Canada|
|BTCetc - ETC Group Physical Bitcoin||BTCE||642.7||Germany|
|CoinShares Physical Bitcoin||BITC||236.4||Switzerland|
|21Shares Bitcoin ETP||ABTC||210.5||Germany/France/Switzerland|
|CI Galaxy Bitcoin ETF||BTCX||184.0||Canada|
|VanEck Vectors Bitcoin ETN||VBTC||137.2||Germany|
|Ninepoint Bitcoin ETF||BITC||107.2||Canada|
|SA1 Bitcoin ETP||SBTCU||50.7||Switzerland|
|Iconic Funds BTC ETN||XBTI||9.2||Germany/Switzerland|
|Betapro Bitcoin ETF||HBIT||4.2||Canada|
Sources: Issuers, Bloomberg; data as of June 1, 2021