Cryptocurrency investors have been itching for some crypto-themed exchange-traded funds, but regulatory concerns have kept the options limited up to this point. A pair of new blockchain ETFs launched this month, and record inflows suggest a huge appetite among ETF investors.
The Reality Shares Nasdaq NextGen Economy ETF (ticker: BLCN) and the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) are two new ETFs that invest in companies researching and developing the blockchain technology that underlies bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies.
According to FactSet, investors have poured more than $240 million into the blockchain ETFs in less than two weeks, an incredible amount of cash inflow for new ETFs. RealityShares says the BLCN ETF will top the $100 million mark within days.
“It is rare for new ETFs to pull in such a large amount of cash,” said Todd Rosenbluth, CFRA’s director of ETF and mutual fund research, according to CNBC. “But there has been pent-up demand for a thematic approach to gain exposure to blockchain.”
While the cryptocurrencies themselves have gotten much of the media attention, some experts say the blockchain decentralized verification technology, not the cryptocurrencies themselves, is the real opportunity for investors. Companies working on developing this potentially disruptive technology, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (NYSE: TSM) and IBM Corp. (IBM), are among the top holdings of the blockchain ETFs. Gartner estimates blockchain technology could contribute $3.1 trillion in value to the global economy by 2030.
The huge success of the blockchain ETFs comes just as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is holding its ground not approving ETFs with direct exposure to cryptocurrencies for listing on major U.S. exchanges. Earlier this month, SEC director Dalia Blass said proposed cryptocurrency ETFs are off the table until the funds can give satisfactory answers to questions about investor risk from extreme volatility, lack of liquidity and potential market manipulation.
“Until the questions identified above can be addressed satisfactorily, we do not believe that it is appropriate for fund sponsors to initiate registration of funds that intend to invest substantially in cryptocurrency and related products, and we have asked sponsors that have registration statements filed for such products to withdraw them,” Blass wrote on Jan. 18.
For now, cryptocurrency ETF investors must make do with the BLOK ETF, the BLCN ETF and the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), which trades on the over-the-counter market.