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Cryptocurrency

Why ARK’s Cathie Wood Isn’t Buying Into the Bitcoin Futures ETF

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In brief

  • The first U.S. Bitcoin futures ETF, from ProShares, launched on Tuesday.
  • ARK Invest has made many crypto-related investments, but isn’t ready to buy into the first futures ETF.

ARK Invest CEO and Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood is big on cryptocurrency, investing in Bitcoin as well as crypto-related stocks like Coinbase and the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. But ARK isn’t buying into the newly-launched U.S. Bitcoin futures ETF—not yet, at least.

The United States’ first Bitcoin futures ETF—the ProShare Bitcoin Strategy ETF—began trading Tuesday and racked up nearly $1 billion in activity by the end of the first business day, including $280 million worth within the first half an hour of trading.

A Bitcoin ETF, or exchange-traded fund, lets institutional and retail investors gain exposure to the leading cryptocurrency without actually buying and holding Bitcoin itself. In this case, however, it’s an ETF for Bitcoin futures rather than the actual coin, which means investors are buying shares that represent contracts betting on the future price of Bitcoin.

Asked if ARK invested in the ProShares Bitcoin futures ETF at yesterday’s Milken Institute Global Conference, Wood replied, “No, we did not. One of the reasons is, we’re looking at this very carefully.” She added that there are “some tax ramifications we’d like to understand more, having to do with contango versus more normal backwardation.”

Contango and normal backwardation are terms used to refer to the movement of prices over time on a futures curve. As Decrypt’s Jeff Roberts wrote in this weekend’s Roberts on Crypto column, such concepts can make futures ETFs like this one especially complicated for the average retail investor, as opposed to professional traders.

Wood, of course, is a highly successful veteran investor—but even she and ARK aren’t quite ready to dive into a ProShares ETF investment. “Not yet,” she concluded.

ARK Invest has its own Bitcoin ETF play in the works. Back in July, the firm joined the long list of companies seeking SEC approval to launch a U.S. Bitcoin spot ETF, which is pegged to the current price of the coin while similarly allowing investors exposure without actually buying and taking custody of the cryptocurrency.

No spot Bitcoin ETF has been approved in the United States. A second Bitcoin futures ETF, the VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF, is cleared to begin trading next week on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). ARK Invest has also lent its name to yet another Bitcoin futures ETF that is currently in the works.

Bitcoin hit an all-time high price this morning amid excitement around futures ETF launches, reaching a new high above $67,276 per data from CoinGecko.

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