GBTC Sheds Assets as Rival Bitcoin ETFs Add Investors

Inflows to nine other spot bitcoin ETFs rise, although Grayscale’s product remains the largest.

ETF.com
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Contributing Editor
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Reviewed by: etf.com Staff
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Edited by: Ron Day

This week has continued the dueling spot bitcoin ETF narratives of Grayscale GBTC shedding assets at a fast clip but inflows to nine other products rising.

Tuesday outflows of $515 million brought this week’s total to over $1.15 billion. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF (GBTC) has lost nearly $4 billion in assets in the eight trading days since the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the new products. Its rivals gained $409 million in assets on Tuesday to raise their weekly inflows to $963 million. They have received nearly $5 billion in inflows since their Jan. 11 unveilings. Wednesday totals were unavailable at the time of publication.

Still, Bloomberg Senior ETF Analyst Eric Balchunas struck an optimistic tone about what he has called “The Great GBTC Gouge,” in a post on X/Twitter.

“Total rolling net flows down to +$983m as Nine loses a bit of ground despite $GBTC flows being slightly less bad,” Balchunas wrote, noting that BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) and the Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC) inflows continued at a $1 billion per week pace that only Vanguard’s VOO could match.

He added that both were a “near lock” to reach $2 billion in inflows by the week’s end. 

“Also this shows volume and discount (which were really low for GBTC yest) may emerge as best predictors of the flow coming later (vs the transfer number ppl report each morning),” Balchunas wrote. 

The opposing trends have formed quickly since the SEC reversed a decade of objections on Jan. 10 to give a thumbs-up to 11 products based primarily on the spot price of bitcoin, including a Grayscale proposal to convert its GBTC trust into an ETF. Analysts have speculated that many Grayscale customers sold their shares to take profits after investing at a low price during the extended crypto bear market, which began in late 2021, or to move into competing products that charge a lower fee. 

Grayscale charges 1.5%, while Bitwise, among others, has waived its fee for the first six months on the first $1 billion of assets. On Monday, GBTC had dropped more than 13% of its outstanding shares. Balchunas and fellow Bloomberg analyst James Seyffart have predicted that the company would lose around 25% of its shares.

Bitcoin's Price Fade

Bitcoin’s was recently trading slightly above $40,100, a roughly 1.7% gain over the past 24 hours. But the price of the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization has dropped about 20% since the approvals. Bitcoin dipped below $16,500 last January before rallying with a good portion of the gains coming later in the year amid rising hopes for a spot bitcoin ETF approval. 

“GBTC continues to bleed assets as investors swap out of the relatively expensive fund into cheaper alternatives,” etf.com analyst Sumit Roy wrote. “Selling by arbitrageurs, who bought the fund at a discount to its net asset value, has also likely contributed to the outflows.”

He added: “Bulls argue that inflows will pick up once the GBTC outflows are exhausted. A more bearish interpretation would be that most of the money flowing out of GBTC is flowing into these other spot bitcoin ETFs, so the modest $1 billion of net inflows for spot bitcoin ETFs that we’ve seen so far already reflects the true demand for spot bitcoin ETFs.

Grayscale "Dominating Trading Volume"

In a statement emailed to ETF.com, Grayscale’s John Hoffman, Grayscale’s managing director of sales & distribution, wrote that GBTC had “launched as the world’s largest spot Bitcoin ETF,” and “been dominating trading volume.”

“Broadly speaking, large capital markets ETFs are used in a variety of investing strategies, and we anticipate GBTC’s diverse shareholder base will continue to deploy strategies that impact inflows and outflows,” he wrote.

James Rubin is a contributing editor for etf.com, where he produces the Morning Exchange and Weekly Exchange newsletters. A longtime financial writer, editor and book author, he formerly held positions as a news and markets editor for the Americas at CoinDesk, where he focussed on cryptocurrencies. 

He provided editorial guidance for a Wall Street Journal best-selling book on Bitcoin and oversaw a startup newsroom focused on digital financial assets. He has edited for TheStreet and Unchained, where he wrote daily news stories about the trial of fallen crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried. His writing has also appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes.com, AdWeek, Bankrate, The Financial Brand and The Wall Street Journal. He has also written for Forbes Insights and the Economist Intelligence Unit, including papers presented at World Economic Forums in Davos and Mumbai. 

James is the co-author of The Urban Cyclist’s Survival Guide (Triumph Books) and has been interviewed about bike safety on a number of NPR affiliates. In a prior career, Rubin was a world-ranked tennis player, once competing in Wimbledon’s qualifying rounds. He speaks fluent German and is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and received his BA at Columbia University.