No Bitcoin ETF This Year, And Other Insights

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Cinthia Murphy, Staff Writer

The who’s who of the ETF industry met up in south Florida this past week at the annual InsideETFs conference—the largest ETF conference in the world.

The biggest yet, InsideETFs attracted some 2,400 people this year in a four-day event that brought the likes of Allianz’s Mohamed El-Erian, Vanguard’s Tim Buckley and even tennis pro Serena Williams together, among others.

Among the many insights advisors and investors walked away with this year was a prediction: There will be no bitcoin ETF anytime soon.

Jeremy Senderowicz, an attorney and expert on ETF and mutual fund laws, said the Securities and Exchange Commission still has too many concerns surrounding cryptocurrencies, chief among them the lack of investor protections in the crypto space.

“Some of the questions that were raised by the SEC are answerable,” Senderowicz said. “The other part of it is what happens with the cryptocurrency market itself.”

“I think it would be tough to see an exchange-traded bitcoin product in the next 12 months,” Senderowicz said. “There’s going to have to be a very robust response from the industry to the SEC’s concerns. The underlying market for bitcoin has to evolve.”

Race To Be First In Bitcoin & Blockchain ETFs

That’s not to say that ETF issuers are going to stop trying. In an interview with, VanEck CEO Jan Van Eck talked about bitcoin market structure, and how the firm is looking to offer access to this space through a series of cryptocurrencies indices it created.

There have been a number of bitcoin ETF proposals that have hit the regulatory pipeline in recent months, but none of them has thus far managed to address all of the SEC’s concerns. In the meantime, ETF issuers have been tackling a key component of the bitcoin story, and that’s the blockchain.

This week, First Trust launched the cheapest blockchain ETF in the market, the First Trust Indxx Innovative Transaction & Process ETF (LEGR), which came to market as the third blockchain ETF, with an expense ratio of 0.65%. LEGR will compete with two predecessors: the actively managed Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) and the index-based Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BLCN), launched earlier this month, charging 0.70% and 0.68%, respectively.

Are We In A Bubble?

Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz, and one of the most respected economists in the U.S. today, asked a room full of advisors and investors a question many in the financial industry have been asking: Are we in a bubble?

El-Erian himself didn’t offer a straight answer to that as much as a suggestion that, no, we are probably not. Instead, he detailed a case of improving global growth, of fundamentals catching up to valuations, of tax reform and deregulations fueling pro-growth policies in the U.S., and of Europe and emerging markets all picking up steam.

Yes, things could go wrong and we could face recession. But to El-Erian, the end of the subpar growth we’ve seen globally since the financial crisis is more likely to happen.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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