Ethereum futures become latest ETF craze as applications tumble in

Quick Take

  • The latest filing, the Direxion Bitcoin Ether Strategy ETF, would give investors exposure to both bitcoin and ether futures contracts traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

At least six firms filed for ether futures exchange-traded funds over the past few days, marking the latest wave of excitement as the industry waits with bated breath to see if the Securities and Exchange Commission will approve pending requests for spot bitcoin funds.

While the SEC has yet to approve a spot fund based on the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, it has approved funds based on bitcoin futures, which might make the proposed ether applications seem like less of an ask.

The recent applications for ether future funds include Ether Strategy ETF, Bitwise Ethereum Strategy ETF, Roundhill Ether Strategy ETF, Ethereum Strategy ETF, Proshares Ether Strategy ETF and Grayscale Ethereum Futures ETF. The most recent, Direxion Bitcoin Ether Strategy ETF, would give investors exposure to both bitcoin and ether futures contracts traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. 

ProShares in 2021 launched its bitcoin futures ETF to list and trade on NYSE Arca, which in June saw its largest weekly inflow in a year. 

Nate Geraci, president of advisory ETF Store, said it looked like a “real possibility” that the ether futures ETFs could become a reality before a spot bitcoin ETF.

“That said, this is clearly a positive development for spot bitcoin ETF chances,” Geraci said on Twitter. 

While ether has fallen 6.3% over the past month, it's up 11.9% over the past year. It's price fell 0.4% on Wednesday to $1,842.62, according to CoinGecko. Bitcoin has rallied 26.4% over the past year. 

Wave of spot bitcoin ETFs

It is unclear specifically why so many firms filed for an ether futures ETF all of the sudden, though some recent events, including the launch of the first leveraged bitcoin futures ETF, could be behind it. 

The Volatility Shares 2x Bitcoin Strategy ETF, or BITX, started up in June after not being rejected by the SEC. 

Applications for spot bitcoin ETFs flooded in over the past several months, prompting a rally in the digital asset's price. After Blackrock filed in June, a flurry of other firms filed including Fidelity, VanEck and Valkyrie, all vying for the eventual passing of such a product. 

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has raised concerns about fraud and manipulation when asked about pending applications for a spot bitcoin ETF.

“There’s a lot of noncompliance in this field,” Gensler said last week, remarking on the combinations of different market functions that can occur on crypto trading platforms that are prohibited in traditional financial exchanges for conflict of interest and investor protection reasons. “The platforms themselves, where trading is occurring of various crypto tokens, though some of it comes under the securities laws, currently they’re not necessarily compliant with those time-tested protections against fraud and manipulation.”

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