The Gold Rush of 2018? Investors Talk Bitcoin ETFs

By Amiya Moretta

People are always trying to beat the index. And as famously said, if you can’t beat it, you might as well join it.

But with all the buzz around bitcoin ETFs, this is one index Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway won’t be joining. In a CNBC interview Buffett said, “I can say almost with certainty that cryptocurrencies will come to a bad end.”

Trillions of dollars have moved into ETFs in the last few years. They are relatively safe and cheap. And although bitcoin can be high reward, it is also high risk: the opposite of a traditional ETF.

Kevin Cosens, retired CEO of RF Surgical Systems which sold for $235 million in 2015 said, “I like ETFs because they are a diversified investment with low fees. But I don’t think a bitcoin ETF is diversified. Maybe there is a low fee for the exchange, but I see it as an oxymoron.”

Tom Kreb, a Financial Advisor at Wells Fargo spoke to the volatility of such a specific index stating, “The narrower the scope of the ETF the less diversified it is and therefore, it’s a riskier investment.”

Just because it’s higher risk, doesn’t mean its bad. Bitcoin’s 1,500 percent surge last year is evidence of its demand. Several companies have waved the white flag in the race toward the first bitcoin ETF due to drawbacks from the US Securities and Exchange System (SEC), but Cboe and CME are still in the running, giving those who are bitcoin ETF enthusiasts hope.

According to Barrons, “Both CME and Cboe have set up high barriers to trade bitcoin futures, in order to make sure trading is safe and doesn’t post systemic risk to investors themselves.”

With at least 14 different bitcoin related applications pending, Marc Butler, director at compliance management firm Intelligize told Reuters, “We can expect the SEC to be increasingly watchful over any companies involved in bitcoin activity. Investors should be warned. If it’s too good to be true then it probably is.”

But it’s not just regulators asking tough questions, investors are too. Ron McMahan, CEO of American Mortgage Investment Partners said, “ETFs are for passive investors who don’t want a lot of risks. Bitcoin is extremely speculative for an ETF and probably not suitable for the types of investors who would invest in an ETF.”