WisdomTree’s Steinberg, Bitwise’s Hougan Talk Spot Bitcoin ETFs

Friday’s VettaFi Crypto Symposium had much to discuss, with the launch of 10 different spot bitcoin ETFs this week. The news has focused markets’ attention once more on the many uses and potential of crypto investing, with the ETF wrapper potentially increasing access to the flagship cryptocurrency to more investors than ever before.

Kicking off the symposium, WisdomTree Investments CEO Jonathan Steinberg and Bitwise Asset Management CIO Matt Hougan gave an overview of how investors may want to interpret the news. The segment, titled “The Crypto Revolution: Understanding Crypto’s New Place in the Market,” saw VettaFi Vice Chairman Tom Lydon moderate a conversation between the two. Per Hougan, the starting point to understand the news focuses squarely on access.

“It means that financial advisors can now access bitcoin in the package that they have always wanted to, in an ETF,” he said. “An ETF lowers costs, provides peace of mind, and fits in the systems that advisors use to allocate on behalf of clients.”

For Steinberg, the news now puts the onus on advisors to study up and familiarize themselves with crypto and bitcoin. With access so much easier via the new spot bitcoin ETFs, advisors have to actively avoid it rather than point to the hurdles required to invest.

“From my perspective, it becomes for an advisor a very active decision to not include crypto, or bitcoin, in your portfolio at all,” he said. “So sort of a 1%-3% allocation, I would think, would become quite common, particularly because of the performance of the asset class.”

“It’s absolutely a game-changer,” Steinberg added. “Listen, ETFs have conquered every liquid asset class that they’ve touched. And I expect that this will be the case as well.”

Spot Bitcoin ETFs Arrive on the Scene

Both WisdomTree Investments and Bitwise Asset Management saw their own spot bitcoin ETFs receive approval this week as part of that group of 10 ETFs. The Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (BITB) launched with a 20 basis point (bps) fee set to zero for the first six months. WisdomTree, meanwhile, also launched an ETF, the WisdomTree Bitcoin Fund (BTCW). BTCW will charge 30 bps and will waive its fee for six months for the first $1 billion in assets.

Looking forward, Steinberg shared that WisdomTree hopes to launch its WisdomTree Prime wallet nationally in the U.S. later this quarter. That represents the next step in the firm’s efforts to embrace the blockchain’s potential.

“There is certainly, from my purview, tremendous acceptance from the CEOs of all regulated financial services that blockchain infrastructure is the future of financial services,” he said.

Steinberg also foresees approval for ETFs tied to ether, another cryptocurrency, but for further crypto strategies, he also foresees continued slow processes from the SEC and regulators. Touting WisdomTree’s experience with crypto research work through its European products, he emphasized BTCW’s combination of strong research support and a strong starting price.

For further discussion of the big spot bitcoin ETFs news, check out VettaFi’s upcoming ETF Exchange conference. 

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