Investor appetite for ether futures exchange-traded funds has remained muted, despite a surge in new listings.
Six new ether futures funds from Bitwise Asset Management, ProShares and VanEck launched on Oct. 2. As of Thursday’s close, all six funds have posted losses of 5% or greater since their debuts.
The broader outlook for crypto is partly to blame, Ric Edelman, founder of the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals, told Bob Pisani on CNBC’s “ETF Edge” last Monday.
“When [the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO)] generated a billion dollars on its launch of bitcoin futures, that was because it was brand new,” said Edelman. “Frankly, bitcoin was doing fabulous at the time in 2021 and a lot of folks really didn’t understand exactly what that fund was, being bitcoin futures. You fast-forward a couple of years, people have learned a lot.”
The six ether futures funds that debuted Oct. 2 attracted just $1.92 million collectively on their first day of trading, according to LSEG. When the BITO ETF — a futures product based on bitcoin — launched in late 2021, it saw approximately $1 billion of inflows in its first two trading days alone.
Cryptocurrencies underlying the futures-based products are still well off their all-time highs reached in November 2021. Bitcoin is hovering near $27,000 — more than $40,000 below its peak — while ether is down more than 60% from its high, currently valued near $1,500.
Edelman added that the nature of futures ETFs may be keeping some investors on the sidelines.
“People are recognizing, ‘I don’t ordinarily buy futures, so if I’m not buying futures in the stock market, why would I buy futures in the crypto market?'”
Currently, regulators are weighing the approval of cryptocurrency spot ETFs that trade based on the current market price of the underlying asset, rather than futures contracts.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has previously blocked spot bitcoin ETFs from coming to market, but a federal appeals court in August overturned a ruling that would prevent Grayscale from converting its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into an ETF. The SEC has until Friday to appeal the decision.
According to Edelman, consumer safety is at stake.
“The absence of a spot bitcoin ETF isn’t stopping people from buying crypto. It’s just forcing them to pay for exotic products that cost more and have less liquidity and higher risk,” he said.