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Bitcoin (BTC -1.41%) just made history. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today approved the first spot Bitcoin ETFs, a watershed moment for Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency market.
In total, applications from 11 issuers got the green light from the SEC. A few of those issuers are listed below, along with the relevant fund names and proposed ticker symbols.
- Ark Invest & 21Shares: Ark 21Shares Bitcoin ETF (ARKB)
- BlackRock: iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBTC)
- Fidelity: Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC)
- Franklin Templeton: Franklin Bitcoin ETF (EZBC)
- Invesco & Galaxy: Invesco Galaxy Bitcoin ETF (BTCO)
The institutions listed above are especially relevant because they collectively have more than $10 trillion in assets under management, meaning their spot Bitcoin ETFs are well positioned to gain traction with retail and institutional investors. In fact, with the exception of Ark Invest, every issuer listed ranks among the 15 largest asset managers in the world, and BlackRock is the single largest.
The approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs is a momentous event
The SEC started approving Bitcoin futures ETFs in 2021. But those funds invest in Bitcoin futures contracts, which are agreements to buy or sell the cryptocurrency at a predetermined price on a predetermined date. In other words, Bitcoin futures ETFs do not own Bitcoin directly, so they do not track its price precisely. For instance ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (NYSEMKT: BITO) — the largest Bitcoin futures ETF — returned 103% over the past year, but Bitcoin itself soared 170%.
Spot Bitcoin ETFs work differently. Issuers will purchase Bitcoin to build the fund and sell shares on the stock market. Those shares will track the price of Bitcoin precisely, giving investors direct exposure to the cryptocurrency without the hassle of buying or storing it. By removing barriers to entry, spot Bitcoin ETFs could draw more investors and capital to the market, driving the price of Bitcoin higher.
Indeed, analysts at Bernstein believe Bitcoin could triple in value by the end of 2025, and analysts at Standard Chartered Bank believe its price could quadruple during that time. Other financial professionals are forecasting even greater upside.
Spot Bitcoin ETFs could boost demand among retail and institutional investors
Asset prices are a function of supply and demand. Bitcoin is no different. But because its supply is limited to 21 million coins, demand is effectively the only variable that matters. In other words, whether Bitcoin becomes more or less valuable in the future depends entirely on whether demand increases or decreases.
The historic approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs could drive a step-function increase in demand, especially with major financial institutions like BlackRock and Fidelity participating as issuers. Spot Bitcoin ETFs will greatly reduce friction. Investors will no longer need to create and fund accounts on cryptocurrency exchanges, nor will they need to worry about storing Bitcoin in a blockchain wallet. Instead, they will have the convenience of adding Bitcoin exposure to existing portfolios through traditional brokerages.
With that in mind, Bernstein analyst Gautam Chhugani believes spot Bitcoin ETF approval could push the price of Bitcoin to $150,000 by 2025, implying 230% upside from its current price. Similarly, Geoff Kendrick at Standard Chartered Bank says the approval could send the price of Bitcoin to $200,000 by 2025. That implies 340% upside.
Even more bullish is SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci. He believes spot Bitcoin ETF approval could attract $100 billion in institutional investments, driving the price of Bitcoin to $330,000 in the not-too-distant future. That implies 625% upside from its current price. Scaramucci pointed to the BlackRock ETF as being particularly compelling, simply because BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world.
As a caveat, investors should never put too much emphasis on price targets, and they should bear in mind that cryptocurrency is a volatile asset class fraught with regulatory uncertainty. Yet, the SEC's approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs removes a bit of that uncertainty, and the launch of such products could certainly bring more capital to Bitcoin, pushing its price higher over time.
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