The value of the bitcoin futures contracts is generally based on the expected value of bitcoin at a future point in time, specifically, the expiration date of the bitcoin futures contracts. Other factors, such as cost of mining, storing and securing bitcoin may affect the value of bitcoin futures. A change in the price of bitcoin today (sometimes referred to as the “spot” price) will not necessarily result in a corresponding movement in the price of the bitcoin futures contracts since the price of the bitcoin futures contracts is based on expectations of the price of bitcoin at a future point in time. Additionally, there is no one centralized source for pricing bitcoin and pricing from one bitcoin exchange to the next can vary widely. Therefore, the value of the bitcoin futures contracts held by the Fund should not be expected to track the price of bitcoin on the Bitcoin Exchange Market.
• Theft, loss or destruction. Transacting on a blockchain depends in part specifically on the use of cryptographic keys that are required to access a user’s account (or “wallet”). The theft, loss or destruction of these keys impairs the value of ownership claims users have over the relevant assets being represented by the ledger (whether “smart contracts,” securities, currency or other digital assets). The theft, loss or destruction of private or public keys needed to transact on a blockchain could also adversely affect a blockchain company’s business or operations if it were dependent on the ledger.
The Bitcoin Network is currently maintained by Bitcoin Core and no single entity owns the Bitcoin Network (see “Description of Bitcoin and the Bitcoin Network—The Bitcoin Network”). However, third parties may still assert intellectual property rights claims relating to the operation of the Bitcoin Network. Regardless of the merit of any intellectual property or other legal action, any threatened action that reduces confidence in the Bitcoin Network’s long-term viability or the ability of end-users to hold and transfer bitcoin may adversely affect the price of bitcoin and adversely affect the Bitcoin Instruments. Additionally, a meritorious intellectual property rights claim could prevent end-users from accessing the Bitcoin Network or holding or transferring their bitcoin, which could adversely affect the value of the Bitcoin Instruments. As a result, an intellectual property rights claim against Bitcoin Network participants could have a material adverse impact on the Funds.
The Funds may invest in both sponsored and unsponsored depositary receipts. Certain depositary receipts, typically those designated as “unsponsored,” require the holders thereof to bear most of the costs of such facilities, while issuers of “sponsored” facilities normally pay more of the costs thereof. The depository of an unsponsored facility frequently is under no obligation to distribute shareholder communications received from the issuer of the deposited securities or to pass through the voting rights to facility holders with respect to the deposited securities, whereas the depository of a sponsored facility typically distributes shareholder communications and passes through the voting rights.
The tax treatment of certain contracts (including regulated futures contracts and non-equity options) entered into by the Fund will be governed by Section 1256 of the Code (“Section 1256 contracts”). Gains (or losses) on these contracts generally are considered to be 60% long-term and 40% short-term capital gains or losses (“60/40”), although foreign currency gains or losses arising from certain Section 1256 contracts may be treated as ordinary in character (see “Foreign Currency Transactions” below). Also, section 1256 contracts held by a Fund at the end of each taxable year (and for purposes of the 4% excise tax, on certain other dates prescribed in the Code) are “marked-to-market” with the result that unrealized gains or losses are treated as though they were realized and the resulting gains or losses are treated as ordinary or 60/40 gains or losses, as appropriate.
For example, a Fund may cover its long position in a futures contract by purchasing a put option on the same futures contract with a strike price (i.e., an exercise price) as high as or higher than the price of the futures contract, or, if the strike price of the put is less than the price of the futures contract, the Fund will earmark/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 long position in a futures contract by taking a short position in the instruments underlying the futures contract, or by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently, with a short position in the futures contract. A Fund may “cover” its short position in a futures contract by purchasing a call option on the same futures contract with a strike price (i.e., an exercise price) as low as or lower than the price of the futures contract, or, if the strike price of the call is greater than the price of the futures contract, the Fund will earmark /segregate cash or 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 short position in a futures contract by taking a long position in the instruments underlying the futures contract, or by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently with a long position in the futures contract.
A Precautionary Note Regarding Unusual Circumstances — ProShares Trust can postpone payment of redemption proceeds for any period during which (1) [the Exchange] is closed other than customary weekend and holiday closings, (2) trading on [the Exchange] is restricted, (3) any emergency circumstances exist, as determined by the SEC, and (4) the SEC by order permits for the protection of shareholders of the Fund, as further described in the SAI.
As bitcoin and other digital assets have grown in popularity and in market size, certain U.S. federal and state governments, foreign governments and self-regulatory agencies have begun to examine the operations of bitcoin, digital assets, the Bitcoin Network, bitcoin users, Bitcoin Exchanges and the Bitcoin Exchange Market. These regulatory efforts include, but are not limited to, the following.
The NAV per share of each Fund is computed by dividing the value of the net assets of such Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by its total number of Fund shares outstanding. Expenses and fees are accrued daily and taken into account for purposes of determining NAV. The NAV of each Fund is calculated by JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association. The NAV of each Fund is generally determined each business day at the close of regular trading of the (ordinarily 3:00 p.m. Eastern time). The Fund’s investments are generally valued at their market value using information provided by a pricing service or market quotations. Short-term securities are valued on the basis of amortized cost or based on market prices. In addition, routine valuation of certain other derivatives is performed using procedures approved by the Board.
On October 31, 2017, CME Group, the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, had announced its intent to launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of 2017. “CME Group's Bitcoin futures will be available for trading on the CME Globex electronic trading platform, and for submission for clearing via CME ClearPort, effective on Sunday, December 17, 2017 for a trade date of December 18” as per CME’s officials statement.
THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN PREPARED BY A FUTURESONLINE BROKER WHO PROVIDES RESEARCH MARKET COMMENTARY AND TRADE RECOMMENDATIONS AS PART OF HIS OR HER SOLICITATION FOR ACCOUNTS AND SOLICITATION FOR TRADES. FUTURESONLINE, ITS PRINCIPALS, BROKERS AND EMPLOYEES MAY TRADE IN DERIVATIVES FOR THEIR OWN ACCOUNTS OR FOR THE ACCOUNTS OF OTHERS. DUE TO VARIOUS FACTORS (SUCH AS RISK TOLERANCE, MARGIN REQUIREMENTS, TRADING OBJECTIVES, SHORT TERM VS. LONG TERM STRATEGIES, TECHNICAL VS. FUNDAMENTAL MARKET ANALYSIS, AND OTHER FACTORS) SUCH TRADING MAY RESULT IN THE INITIATION OR LIQUIDATION OF POSITIONS THAT ARE DIFFERENT FROM OR CONTRARY TO THE OPINIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS CONTAINED THEREIN.
• Counterparty Risk —The Fund bears the risk that the counterparty to derivative transaction, such as a futures contract, defaults or otherwise fails to honor its obligations. If a counterparty defaults, the Fund will lose money and the value of an investment in the Fund may decrease. The Fund may engage in futures transactions with a limited number of counterparties, which may increase the Fund’s exposure to counterparty risk. The effect of the volatility of bitcoin pricing or other aspects of trading in bitcoin futures on futures clearinghouses for bitcoin futures is currently unknown, and may result in increased counterparty risk.
Currently the front month future is the January contract which at last check could be sold for $17,600. This contract settles in a cash transfer based on the 4:00 pm eastern bitcoin auction price on Wednesday January 17, 2018 established by Gemini who is partnering with Cboe Global Markets. The bitcoin price at Gemini is close to $16,600 so I will use that for the underlying bitcoin price in this example.
So far, these derivatives market have only been a niche occupied by crypto enthusiasts. That is until one of the newcomers, Crypto Facilities, and an incumbent in the derivatives market have joined forces: Crypto Facilities and the CME Group. The CME Group (controlling, for example, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that has been around for more than a century) is a large-scale business that is officially regulated and audited by the US financial authorities. It settles its contracts in fiat money rather than cryptocurrency, thus enabling non-crypto experts to speculate on Bitcoin.