U.S. retail investors will be able to get exposure to Bitwise's new crypto index fund — albeit indirectly.
According to a Dec. 9 statement from Bitwise Asset Management, shares of its crypto index fund will begin public quotation on over-the-counter, or OTC, markets under the BITW ticker. The move effectively makes the index fund, which is composed of 10 crypto tokens, tradeable using brokerage accounts, which retail investors are allowed to invest in.
The announcement follows a review by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority verifying that the BITW shares were in compliance with the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. That act aims to protect retail investors from certain categories of investment that are especially risky, which is part of why the Securities and Exchange Commission responsible for it has yet to approve a Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund.
"The unprecedented events of 2020 have motivated many to invest in crypto for the first time," said Bitwise co-founder and CEO Hunter Horsley. "With BITW, investors can now get exposure to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies without trying to pick winners or having to constantly monitor the rapid changes in the space."
Though Bitwise advertises this as the first crypto index fund available to U.S. retail investors through brokerage accounts, other investment firms have been able to offer crypto assets in over-the-counter trading. Grayscale Investment’s Digital Large Cap Fund consists of a basket of BTC, ETH, BCH, XRP, and LTC and has been available for OTC trading since last year. In August, the firm announced that shares from its Bitcoin Cash Trust will be available on OTC markets under the BCHG ticker, while its Litecoin Trust shares will use the ticker LTCN.
As of today, Bitwise reported the crypto index fund contained $120 million in assets under management, compared with Grayscale’s $12.6 billion. More than 90% of Bitwise’s fund is comprised of Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and XRP, with smaller allocations of Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Chainlink (LINK), Cardano (ADA), Stellar Lumens (XLM), EOS and Tezos (XTZ). Coinbase Custody acts as the firm’s custodian, keeping the coins in cold storage.
The news follows Bitwise withdrawing its SEC application for a Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund, or ETF, early this year. The firm applied for ETF registration in January 2019.