Bitcoin ETF approval

SEC finally approves Bitcoin ETF

After years of regulatory rejection, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday 10th January 2024 finally approved the Bitcoin EFT.

It has approved what are known as ‘spot’ Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), which can be purchased by anyone from pension funds to retail investors. This now means that some of the biggest asset managers in the world, including BlackRock and Fidelity can trade a crypto related ETF.

Now, instead of using a crypto asset exchange such as Binance, Coinbase or Kraken to purchase and hold a token like Bitcoin, traders can now trade a ‘spot’ Bitcoin ETF for direct exposure to the digital asset market.

It may also mean that investors could pay lower fees than they would if they bought the digital currency from a crypto exchange directly.

Basically, it is now cheaper than ever to buy Bitcoin – but is this positive for the long-term?

Crypto fans can now invest in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) – but what exactly are they?

A Bitcoin ETF allows investors to buy a product that tracks the price of Bitcoin through the same method they already use to buy stocks and other existing products. This also reduces additional worry of managing their crypto related holdings, which typically involves maintaining a cryptocurrency wallet and a safe storage system to safeguard that investment.

But what exactly is an ETF?

ETFs are holdings or portfolios that allow investors to ‘bet’ on multiple assets, without having to buy any themselves. Traded on stock exchanges like shares, their value depends on how the overall portfolio performs in real time.

An ETF could comprise a combination of gold and silver bullion, for example, or a mixture of shares in both big technology and energy companies. Some ETFs already contain Bitcoin indirectly – but a spot Bitcoin ETF will buy the cryptocurrency directly, ‘on the spot’, at its current live price, throughout the trading day.

Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency

Based on an idea by someone called, Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency and remains the most valuable and famous to-date. Its price is often seen as a barometer for the whole industry of thousands of other coins (altcoins), tokens and products built on the same blockchain technology.

Art illustration of Bitcoin blockchain

And with an influx of new money, many expect a surge in interest in cryptocurrency technology in general.

How will the decision affect cryptocurrency adoption and is this decentralisation as originally intended?

Some say this decision shows the existing ‘old financial school’ establishment is finally taking Bitcoin seriously, at least as a speculative asset. For those who consider Bitcoin legitimate ‘digital gold’, what better proof could there be than the biggest wealth-management institutions flocking to buy, and now overseen by regulators?

Others say cryptocurrency is about rejecting traditional financial systems in favour of a decentralised, people-powered alternative. And investment bankers buying Bitcoin just to get rich on U.S. dollars is not what Satoshi Nakamoto had in mind.

But judging from the chatter on social media, the prevailing sentiment is expecting the new cash injection will make existing Bitcoin investors and owners rich.

What are the risks to future investors?

It is possible to lose all of your investment

The price of Bitcoin can change rapidly and often without warning or explanation – it is a volatile asset. So investors will need to be aware when investing in ETFs linked to a digital coin.

Art illustration of Bitcoin trading

But ETFs are often sold as high-risk, high-reward products anyway. It is EXTREMELY high risk – don’t do it if you don’t understand it and even if you do, or think you do – BE CAREFUL! These products can rip the shirt off your back!

Cyber-crime risk

Another potential risk is cyber-crime. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been the subject of huge and costly attacks that have seen crypto companies drained of sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars overnight. And if the likes of Blackrock become major holders of Bitcoin, their cyber-security will be tested in ways never before. Let’s hope their security systems are extremely robust.

Cost of mining coins

Another downside is the heavy cost to the environment is that Bitcoin use a massive number of powerful computers around the world, to process transactions on the blockchain ledger and to create coins – this is known as mining.

Renewable energy use is growing – but it remains to be seen how investment companies will tackle the environmental cost of Bitcoin.

Be careful

ETFs are here now – but BE CAREFUL when entering a Bitcoin related ETF trade or investment, or any type of ETF for that matter. If it goes wrong, you will lose your money, and quickly.

Your money is at HIGH risk!

Bitcoin chart as at 12pm January 11th 2024

Bitcoin chart as at 12pm January 11th 2024

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