• Bitcoin and investments linked to bitcoin, including bitcoin futures contracts, can be highly volatile and may experience large losses. The price of bitcoin has experienced periods of extreme volatility and low liquidity. Speculators and investors who seek to profit from trading and holding bitcoin currently account for a significant portion of bitcoin demand. Such speculation regarding the potential future appreciation in the value of bitcoin may artificially inflate the price of bitcoin. The price of bitcoin recently has been at or near all-time highs. There can be no guarantee this will continue and the market for bitcoin, and therefore bitcoin futures contracts, may change suddenly and without warning.
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The Fund is different from most exchange-traded funds in that it seeks inverse, or “short”, exposure. The Fund may not be suitable for all investors and should be used only by knowledgeable investors. Shareholders should actively manage and monitor their investments, as frequently as daily. As with any shorting strategy that is periodically rebalanced, the return of the Fund over time will likely differ from the inverse of the return of a similar static long investment.
NO PERSON HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED TO GIVE ANY INFORMATION OR TO MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS NOT CONTAINED IN THE PROSPECTUS OR IN THIS STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, WHICH THE PROSPECTUS INCORPORATES BY REFERENCE, IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFERING MADE BY THE PROSPECTUS AND, IF GIVEN OR MADE, SUCH INFORMATION OR PRESENTATIONS MUST NOT BE RELIED UPON AS HAVING BEEN AUTHORIZED BY PROSHARES TRUST. THIS STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFERING BY PROSHARES TRUST IN ANY JURISDICTION IN WHICH SUCH AN OFFERING MAY NOT LAWFULLY BE MADE.
While “physical” delivery of Bitcoins as part of a futures contract would certainly be possible it raises regulatory and security issues in today’s environment where the cybercurrency exchanges are mostly unregulated, somewhat unreliable, and theft due to security hacks is distressingly common. By selecting cash settlement the CME and Cboe completely avoid the transfer of custody issues and shift those problems to somebody else—namely the market makers and arbitrageur.
Leverage (All Funds, except the Matching ProShares Funds, the Managed Futures Strategy ETF, the Crude Oil Strategy ETF, the Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF, the Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF, the Blockchain/Bitcoin Strategy ETF, and the Bitcoin Futures/Equity Strategy ETF the Short (-1x) ProShares Funds and the CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF)
• Market Price Variance Risk — Fund shares are listed for trading on the [ ] Exchange and can be bought and sold in the secondary market at market prices. The market price of shares will fluctuate in response to changes in the value of the Fund’s holdings, supply and demand for shares and other market factors. ProShare Advisors cannot predict whether shares will trade above, below or at a price equal to the value of the Fund’s holdings. Given the fact that shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units, as defined below, ProShare Advisors believes that large discounts or premiums to the value of the Fund’s holdings should not be sustained. The Fund’s investment results are measured based upon the daily NAV of the Fund. Investors purchasing and selling shares in the secondary market may not experience investment results consistent with those experienced by Authorized Participants creating and redeeming directly with the Fund. To the extent that exchange specialists, market makers, Authorized Participants, or other participants are unavailable or unable to trade the Fund’s shares and/or create or redeem Creation Units, trading spreads and the resulting premium or discount on the Fund’s shares may widen and the Fund’s shares may possibly be subject to trading halts and/or delisting.
Sections 1471-1474 of the Code and the U.S. Treasury and IRS guidance issued thereunder (collectively, “FATCA”) generally require a Fund to obtain information sufficient to identify the status of each of its shareholders under FATCA or under an applicable intergovernmental agreement (an “IGA”). If a shareholder fails to provide this information or otherwise fails to comply with FATCA or an IGA, a Fund or its agent may be required to withhold under FATCA at a rate of 30% with respect to that shareholder on ordinary dividends it pays to such shareholder and 30% of the gross proceeds of share redemptions or exchanges and certain Capital Gain Dividends it pays to such shareholder after December 31, 2018. If a payment by a Fund is subject to FATCA withholding, the Fund or its agent is required to withhold even if such payment would otherwise be exempt from withholding under the rules applicable to foreign shareholders described above (e.g., Capital Gain Dividends, short-term capital gain dividends, and interest-related dividends).
With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet and the dependence on computer systems to perform necessary business functions, each Fund is susceptible to operational and information security risks. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber attacks include, but are not limited to gaining unauthorized access to digital systems for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites. Cyber security failures or breaches of a Fund’s third -party service provider (including, but not limited to, index providers, the administrator and transfer agent) or the issuers of securities in which the Funds invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses, the inability of Fund shareholders to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, and/or additional compliance costs. In addition, substantial costs may be incurred in order to prevent any cyber incidents in the future. The Funds and their shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result. While the Funds have established business continuity plans and systems to prevent such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified. Furthermore, the Funds cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by issuers in which the Funds invest.
A Fund may cover its sale of a call option on a futures contract by taking a long position in the underlying futures contract at a price less than or equal to the strike price of the call option, or, if the long position in the underlying futures contract is established at a price greater than the strike price of the written (sold) call, the Fund will earmark/segregate liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the call and the price of the future. A Fund may also cover its sale of a call option by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently with the call option. A Fund may cover its sale of a put option on a futures contract by taking a short position in the underlying futures contract at a price greater than or equal to the strike price of the put option, or, if the short position in the underlying futures contract is established at a price less than the strike price of the written put, the Fund will segregate cash or liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the put and the price of the future. A Fund may also cover its sale of a put option by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently to the put option.
• Small-and Mid-Cap Company Investment Risk — The Fund may invest in stocks of small-and mid-cap companies. The risk of equity investing may be particularly acute for securities of issuers with smaller market capitalizations. Small-and mid-cap company stocks may trade at greater spreads or lower trading volumes, and may be less liquid than the stocks of larger companies. Small-and mid-cap companies may have limited product lines or resources, may be dependent upon a particular market niche and may have greater fluctuations in price than the stocks of larger companies. Further, stocks of small-and mid-sized companies could be more difficult to liquidate during market downturns compared to larger, more widely traded companies. In addition, small-and mid-cap companies may lack the financial and personnel resources to handle economic or industry-wide setbacks and, as a result, such setbacks could have a greater effect on small-and mid-cap security prices.
The Fund generally does not expect to invest directly in futures contracts, option contracts and swap agreements (“Bitcoin Instruments”). The Fund expects to gain exposure to these investments by investing a portion of its assets in the ProShares Cayman Bitcoin Futures Strategy Portfolio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fund organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands (the “Subsidiary”). The Subsidiary is advised by ProShare Advisors, the Fund’s investment advisor, and invests directly in Bitcoin Instruments. Unlike the Fund, the Subsidiary is not an investment company registered under the 1940 Act. The Fund’s investment in the Subsidiary is intended to provide the Fund with exposure to commodity markets related to bitcoin in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. The Fund will invest up to 25% of its total assets in the Subsidiary. Except as otherwise noted, references to the Fund’s investment strategies and risks include the investment strategies and risks of the Subsidiary.
A Fund will be a personal holding company for federal income tax purposes if 50% or more of the Fund’s shares are owned, at any time during the last half of the Fund’s taxable year, directly or indirectly by five or fewer individuals. For this purpose, the term “individual” includes pension trusts, private foundations and certain other tax-exempt trusts. If a Fund becomes a personal holding company, it may be subject to a tax of 20% on all its investment income and on any net short-term gains not distributed to shareholders on or before the fifteenth day of the third month following the close of the Fund’s taxable year. In addition, the Fund’s status as a personal holding company may limit the ability of the Fund to distribute dividends with respect to a taxable year in a manner qualifying for the dividends-paid deduction subsequent to the end of the taxable year and will prevent the Fund from using tax equalization, which may result in the Fund paying a fund-level income tax. Each Fund intends to distribute all of its income and gain in timely manner such that it will not be subject to an income tax or an otherwise applicable personal holding company tax, but there can be no assurance that a Fund will be successful in doing so each year.
The above futures curve shows that in the short term (< 1month) bitcoin-USD futures prices tend to be at or higher than the respective spot prices, with the highest premium to spot reached for futures maturing in approximately 9 days. In the mid term (1-3 months), bitcoin futures prices increase rapidly with mid prices at a premium of approximately 2% compared to the spot price. In the long term (>3months), premiums are positive and prices increase with a relatively stable velocity. Long term prices are at a slightly higher level compared to mid-term maturities. The absolute difference between long-term and short-term premium is positive, revealing an overall positive view about bitcoin among investors for the future. To summarize, this curve reflects modest investor optimism in the short term, due to a possibly high level of volatility around the launch of U.S.-listed bitcoin futures contracts, and an increasingly positive view on bitcoin-USD rates in the medium and long term. In the distant future (>3months) the curve may reflect a belief that the long-term true value of bitcoin will be at a higher level than today, possibly due to increased institutional participation and the maturation of digital assets as a potential asset class.
The Trust is a Delaware statutory trust and registered investment company. The Trust was organized on May 29, 2002, and has authorized capital of unlimited Shares of beneficial interest of no par value which may be issued in more than one class or series. Currently, the Trust consists of multiple separately managed series. The Board of Trustees may designate additional series of beneficial interest and classify Shares of a particular series into one or more classes of that series.
general obligations of the issuer and are typically guaranteed by such issuer. Despite this guarantee, such debt securities are subject to default, restructuring or changes to the terms of the debt to the detriment of security holders. Such an event impacting a security held by a Fund would likely have an adverse impact on the Fund’s returns. Also, due to demand from other investors, certain types of these debt securities may be less accessible to the capital markets and may be difficult for a Fund to source. This may cause a Fund, at times, to pay a premium to obtain such securities for its own portfolio. For more information related to foreign sovereign, sub-sovereign and supranational securities, see “Foreign Securities” and “Exposure to Securities or Issuers in Specific Foreign Countries or Regions” above.
Institutional-tier offerings such as those detailed above are seen as much-needed catalysts to stimulate the flow of institutional money into the market, offering heavyweight financial players a less-risky way to buy into assets like bitcoin. For the same reason, custody services like those offered by Coinbase, BitGo and others are necessary for safely storing and managing these investments as well.
Investors purchasing and selling shares in the secondary market may not experience investment results consistent with those experienced by Authorized Participants creating and redeeming directly with the Fund. To the extent that exchange specialists, market makers, Authorized Participants, or other participants are unavailable or unable to trade the Fund’s shares and/or create or redeem Creation Units, trading spreads and the resulting premium or discount on the Fund’s shares may widen and the Fund’s shares may possibly be subject to trading halts and/or delisting.
Created by Charlie Lee, a former Google engineer, Litecoin is an open-source payment network that operates on a global scale. It is not controlled by any centralized power, and it uses the “scrypt” as proof-of-work. It is similar to Bitcoin but has the advantage of offering a faster rate of generation and therefore faster transactions. This is one of the main reasons why its enthusiasts continue to invest or hold onto the coin even after finding out that its founder sold his stack.
The Funds may be eligible to elect alternative tax treatment with respect to PFIC shares. Under an election that currently is available in some circumstances, a Fund generally would be required to include in its gross income its share of the earnings of a PFIC on a current basis, regardless of whether distributions were received from the PFIC in a given year. If this election were made, the special rules, discussed above, relating to the taxation of excess distributions, would not apply. Another election would involve marking to market a Fund’s PFIC shares at the end of each taxable year, with the result that unrealized gains would be treated and reported as though they were realized as ordinary income on the last day of the taxable year. Any mark-to-market losses and any loss from an actual disposition of PFIC shares would be deductible by the Fund as ordinary losses to the extent of any net mark-to-market gains included in income in prior years. Making either of these two elections may require a Fund to liquidate other investments (including when it is not advantageous to do so) to meet its distribution requirements, which also may accelerate the recognition of gain and affect the Fund’s total return. Dividends paid by PFICs will not be eligible to be treated as “qualified dividend income.” Because it is not always possible to identify a foreign corporation as a PFIC, the Fund may incur the tax and interest charges described above in some instances.
• Interest Rate Risk — The Fund intends to invest a substantial portion of its assets in U.S. Treasury securities and is subject to interest rate risk. Interest rate risk is the risk that debt securities may fluctuate in value due to changes in interest rates. Commonly, investments subject to interest rate risk will decrease in value when interest rates rise and increase in value when interest rates decline. The value of securities with longer maturities may fluctuate more in response to interest rate changes than securities with shorter maturities. A wide variety of factors can cause interest rates to rise (e.g., central bank monetary policies, inflation rates, general economic conditions, etc.). This risk may be elevated under current economic conditions because interest rates are at historically low levels. Returns on investment in debt instruments may trail the returns on other investment options, including investments in equity securities.
A Fund’s ability to invest in MLPs that are treated as qualified publicly traded partnerships (“QPTPs”) for federal income tax purposes is limited by the Fund’s intention to qualify as a RIC, and if the Fund does not appropriately limit such investments or if such investments are recharacterized for U.S. tax purposes, the Fund’s status as a RIC may be jeopardized. Among other limitations, a Fund is permitted to have no more than 25% of the total value if its total assets invested, including through corporations in which the Fund owns a 20% or more voting stock interest, in QPTPs including MLPs. A Fund’s investments in MLPs potentially will result in distributions from that Fund (i) constituting returns of capital not included in a shareholder’s income but reducing the shareholder’s tax basis in his or her shares; (ii) attributable to gain recognized with respect to that is recharacterized as ordinary income and, therefore, not offset by capital losses; or (iii) taxable to such shareholder even though they represent appreciation realized by that Fund prior to the shareholder’s investment therein. That Fund’s investments in MLPs will also potentially cause it to recognize taxable income on its investments in in excess of the cash generated thereby, and therefore require the Fund to sell investments, including when not otherwise advantageous to do so, in order to satisfy the distribution requirements for treatment as a RIC and to eliminate a Fund-level tax.
• ETN Risk — The Fund is likely to obtain substantial exposure to the price movements of bitcoin by holding ETNs that provide exposure to the price of bitcoin. ETNs are unsecured, unsubordinated debt securities of an issuer that are listed and traded on a U.S. stock exchange. An ETN’s returns are generally linked to the performance of a particular market benchmark or strategy minus applicable fees. ETNs do not provide principal protection and may or may not make periodic coupon payments. ETNs are subject to credit risk, which is the risk that the issuer cannot pay interest or repay principal when it is due. Additionally, the value of an ETN may be influenced by time to maturity, level of supply and demand, volatility and lack of liquidity in the underlying market (e.g., the commodities market), changes in interest rates or the issuer’s credit rating, and other economic, legal, political or geographic events. The value of an investment in an ETN may be impacted by fees associated with the ETN. Structural aspects of the ETNs may impact their market value. Trading by affiliates of an ETN sponsor may create conflicts of interest. The issuer of an ETN may be unable to meet its obligations. The potential impact of Bitcoin Network forks on the value of a bitcoin ETN is unclear. ETNs issued by special purpose vehicles may include greater risk. ETNs are subject to risks associated with the underlying asset.
The Code generally imposes a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on the net investment income of certain individuals, trusts, and estates to the extent their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. For these purposes, “net investment income” generally includes, among other things, (i) distributions paid by a Fund of ordinary dividends and capital gain dividends as described above, and (ii) any net gain from the sale, redemption or exchange of Fund shares. Shareholders are advised to consult their tax advisors regarding the possible implications of this additional tax on their investment in a Fund.
Example: If the futures contract price is $400, then you can buy 0.5btc worth of this and if the price of bitcoin goes up to $450 the futures contract price will go up, and the value increases from 0.5 BTC and you can just sell for a profit. Trading a synthetic derivative rather than spot bitcoin allows you to use margin leverage to more easily buy and sell -- the contracts are just a facilitation of the value.
Now, what if the Bitcoin price is rising? For example, if 1 BTC is worth 5,500 USD, you don’t want to fulfill this contract any more and sell cheap for 5,000 USD. In order to still make things fair for both participants, the exchange (here CME) will make sure that you can sell for the current market price of 5,500 USD if you so wish, but they will compensate your contract partner for this. How? They will take the difference – 500 USD – out of your so-called margin account and give it to Mortimer. This kind of settlement is not only performed on the fulfilment date of the futures contract, but on every trading day, according to the current price of the asset.