Spot Bitcoin ETF Issuers: "This is Just the Beginning"

Spot Bitcoin ETF Issuers: "This is Just the Beginning"

Ophelia Snyder and Matt Hougan, in webinar, discuss fees, access and what comes next.

Wealth Management Editor
Reviewed by: Staff
Edited by: Ron Day

In the wake of the celebration surrounding the regulatory approval for 11 spot bitcoin ETFs, financial services professionals have started jockeying for a leadership position in the scramble for market share. 

That point was underscored this week during an webinar, featuring representatives from two of the issuers of spot bitcoin ETFs. 

Ophelia Snyder, president and co-founder of 21Shares, and Matt Hougan, chief investment officer at Bitwise Investment Management, joined reporter Lucy Brewster in a detailed discussion about where cryptocurrency investing goes from here. 

“In several ways, this is just the beginning, because it removes a certain cloud of regulatory uncertainty and how to access this asset class,” said Snyder. “These products simplify access, and my hope is a new cohort of people feel welcomed into this community.” 

Spot Bitcoin ETFs: Beyond the Usual Suspects 

The community of cryptocurrency followers has largely grown and developed outside the traditional wealth management industry circles. But the introduction of direct access to bitcoin through the most popular investment wrapper among financial advisors is seen as a major turning point. 

As Hougan explained it, prior to spot bitcoin ETFs, which began trading Thursday, “financial advisors had to have levels of conviction 95% or higher.” 

“If you think bitcoin is on a journey to really mature into what we think bitcoin can be, the ETF is a necessary point on that journey,” he added. 

In terms of growth potential, Hougan compared the introduction of spot bitcoin ETFs to the 2004 launch of the $58 billion SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), which was the first ETF to offer access to spot gold in the U.S. 

“In 2003 people who bought gold were gold bugs and outliers,” he said. “Bitcoin is a on a similar journey and the ETF is a catalyst on that journey.” 

Similarly bullish, Snyder said, “Digital assets today roughly sit where the internet was in the 1990s.” 

Citing the reality that the internet has evolved into an integral part of daily life, Snyder added, “That’s the shift we’re looking at.” 

“You will see digital assets and crypto follow that same adoption curve as the internet,” she said.  

Lower Fees

Right out of the gate the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF Trust (BITB) at 20 basis points, and the ARK Invest/21Shares (ARKB) at 21 basis points, are among the cheapest among the 11 spot bitcoin ETFs that were approved this week by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  

Considering that the initial batch of ETFs are all offering essentially the same thing, Snyder and Hougan feel they have an advantage by being the cheapest. 

“If there is a strategy to a higher cost, I don’t know what that would be,” said Snyder. 

Hougan expects the lower-fee ETFs to stand out. 

“The reason it’s such a struggle to offer lower fees is that lower fee products are better for investors,” he said. “People will gravitate to lower fee products.” 

Snyder and Hougan see the spot bitcoin ETFs as cracking open the door to more crypto-related ETFs, including a potential spot ethereum ETF that has already been filed by 21Shares. But Hougan doesn’t anticipate a flood of new spot bitcoin ETF filings. 

“We have a lot of spot products now, and I don’t know that we need any more,” he said. “But the innovation engine is an animal of its own right, and you’ll see people experimenting with new products.” 

Hougan and Snyder said they aren't surprised or particularly concerned about the way some brokerage platforms, including Vanguard, have decided to limit or prohibit access to spot bitcoin ETFs. 

“I’m not even a little bit concerned about Vanguard and others not providing access,” said Snyder. “There will be philosophical conversations, and some platforms may wait to see the trading patterns.” 

Hougan called the limited access on some platforms a mistake, and said it made the strong first-day trading volume for the 11 ETFs “even more impressive given that we have only opened the door a crack.” 

“I imagine there will be a few philosophical holdouts, remember, Vanguard was initially a holdout on ETFs,” he said. “It will be a cascade because the major wirehouses are a little bit of a herd animal, and you will have investors clamoring for access. I’d be surprised if there are many holdouts after a year.” 

Contact Jeff Benjamin at [email protected] and find him on X at @BenjiWriter.    

Jeff Benjamin is the wealth management editor at, responsible for coverage related to the financial planning industry. This includes writing, hosting podcasts, webinars, video interviews and presenting at in-person events.

Jeff is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years’ experience covering the financial markets. He has won more than two dozen national and regional awards for his reporting. He most recently worked as a senior columnist at InvestmentNews where he wrote about investment products and strategies, as well as the broader financial planning industry. Prior to that, Jeff worked as an analyst at Cerulli Associates where he researched and wrote reports on the alternative investments industry. Jeff also worked as a money management reporter at Dow Jones Newswires, where he covered the mutual fund industry.

Based in North Carolina, Jeff is a former Marine and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.