Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have evolved from a playful experiment among technical experts to an established and growing branch of the global financial industry. This means that the times in which cryptocurrency traders and investors only concerned themselves with straightforward buying and selling are over. Derivatives are now entering the picture.
When a Fund purchases or sells a futures contract, or buys or sells an option thereon, the Fund “covers” its position. To cover its position, a Fund may enter into an offsetting position, earmark or segregate with its custodian bank or on the official books and records of the Fund cash or liquid instruments (marked-to-market on a daily basis) that, when added to any amounts deposited with a futures commission merchant as margin, are equal to the market value of the futures contract or otherwise “cover” its position. When required by law, a Fund will segregate liquid assets in an amount equal to the value of the Fund’s total assets committed to the consummation of such futures contracts. Obligations under futures contracts so covered will not be considered senior securities for purposes of a Fund’s investment restriction concerning senior securities.
If a Fund were a QIE, under a special “look-through” rule, any distributions by the Fund to a foreign shareholder (including, in certain cases, distributions made by the Fund in redemption of its shares) attributable directly or indirectly to (i) distributions received by the Fund from a lower-tier RIC or REIT that the Fund is required to treat as USRPI gain in its hands and (ii) gains realized on the disposition of USRPIs by the Fund would retain their character as gains realized from USRPIs in the hands of the Fund’s foreign shareholders and would be subject to U.S. tax withholding. In addition, such distributions could result in the foreign shareholder being required to file a U.S. tax return and pay tax on the distributions at regular U.S. federal income tax rates. The consequences to a foreign shareholder, including the rate of such withholding and character of such distributions (e.g., as ordinary income or USRPI gain), would vary depending upon the extent of the foreign shareholder’s current and past ownership of the Fund.
Under an investment advisory agreement between ProShare Advisors and the Trust, on behalf of each Fund (the “Agreement” or “Advisory Agreement”), each Fund (other than the Morningstar Alternatives Solution ETF, the Global Listed Private Equity ETF, the Short Term USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF, the Inflation Expectations ETF and the CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF) pays ProShare Advisors a fee at an annualized rate, based on its average daily net assets, of 0.75%. ProShare Advisors has entered into an Advisory Fee Waiver Agreement for each of these Funds that reduces the annualized rate based on its average daily net assets, as follows: 0.75% of the first $4.0 billion of average daily net assets of the Fund; 0.70% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $4.0 billion to $5.5 billion; 0.65% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $5.5 billion to $7.0 billion; 0.60% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $7.0 billion to $8.5 billion; and 0.55% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $8.5 billion. The fee waiver arrangement will remain in effect through at least September 30, 2018 and prior to such date ProShare Advisors may not terminate the arrangement without the approval of the Board.
• Risks Associated with Bitcoin – The Fund is exposed to risks associated with bitcoin. Investing in or gaining exposure to Bitcoin may provide the Fund with increased risk. Various global factors may negatively impact the Fund’s performance including legal, regulatory, political, social, regional and economic events. These risks, which could have a negative impact on the performance of the Fund and the trading price of Fund shares, include the following:
The Funds may invest in a combination of forward currency contracts and U.S. dollar-denominated market instruments in an attempt to obtain an investment result that is substantially the same as a direct investment in a foreign currency-denominated instrument. This investment technique creates a “synthetic” position in the particular foreign currency instrument whose performance the manager is trying to duplicate. For example, investing in a combination of U.S. dollar-denominated instruments with “long” forward currency exchange contracts creates a position economically equivalent to investing in a money market instrument denominated in the foreign currency itself. Such combined positions are sometimes necessary when the money market in a particular foreign currency is small or relatively illiquid.
At or before the maturity of a forward currency contract, the Funds may either sell a portfolio security and make delivery of the currency, or retain the security and terminate its contractual obligation to deliver the currency by buying an “offsetting” contract obligating them to buy, on the same maturity date, the same amount of the currency. If the Fund engages in an offsetting transaction, it may later enter into a new forward currency contract to sell the currency.
The Trust, the Advisor and the Distributor each have adopted a consolidated code of ethics (the “COE”), under Rule 17j-1 of the 1940 Act, which is reasonably designed to ensure that all acts, practices and courses of business engaged in by personnel of the Trust, the Advisor and the Distributor reflect high standards of conduct and comply with the requirements of the federal securities laws. There can be no assurance that the COE will be effective in preventing deceptive, manipulative or fraudulent activities. The COE permits personnel subject to it to invest in securities, including securities that may be held or purchased by a Fund; however, such transactions are reported on a regular basis. The Advisor’s personnel that are Access Persons, as the term is defined in the COE, subject to the COE are also required to report transactions in registered open-end investment companies advised or sub-advised by the Advisor. The COE is on file with the SEC and is available to the public.
the price of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Futures Contracts. In particular, it is possible that the price of the Bitcoin Futures Contracts subsequent to a “fork” may be linked to the price of bitcoin on only one of the resulting Bitcoin Networks, rather than the aggregate price of bitcoin on all resulting Bitcoin Networks. The CBOE Futures Exchange (“CFE”) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (“CME”) have announced different protocols for addressing forks.
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.
• 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.
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.
(b) A majority of the Disinterested Trustees acting on the matter (provided that a majority of the Disinterested Trustees then in office act on the matter) or independent legal counsel in a written opinion shall determine, based upon a review of the readily available facts (as opposed to the facts available upon a full trial), that there is reason to believe that the recipient ultimately will be found entitled to indemnification.
• The bitcoin exchanges on which bitcoin trades are relatively new and, in most cases, largely unregulated and, therefore, may be more exposed to volatility, fraud and security breaches than established, regulated exchanges for other products. Over the past several years, a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been closed due to fraud, failure, security breaches or governmental regulations. The nature of the assets held at Bitcoin Exchanges make them appealing targets for hackers and a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been victims of cybercrimes. No Bitcoin Exchange is immune from these risks. Fraudulent activity can increase volatility and have an adverse effect on the price of bitcoin, the general acceptance of bitcoin as an investment or means of currency and could have a negative impact on the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests and the value of the Fund.
For instance, last year, an ETF was rejected. This resulted in the boost of altcoins. Here, Kelly says that we saw Bitcoin outperform and altcoins prices go flat. Cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum [ETH] and XRP [XRP] have been flat due to all the money flowing into Bitcoin. In case of an ETF rejection or even delay, a heavy amount of money will flow out of Bitcoin and into the others.
Over the past several years, a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been closed due to fraud, failure, security breaches or governmental regulations. The nature of the assets held at Bitcoin Exchanges make them appealing targets for hackers and a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been victims of cybercrimes. In many of these instances, the customers of such Bitcoin Exchanges were not compensated or made whole for the partial or complete losses of their account balances in such Bitcoin Exchanges. No Bitcoin Exchange is immune from these risks but the existence of these risks has created a higher barrier of entry for new Bitcoin Exchanges. The loss of confidence in new and smaller Bitcoin Exchanges and in the Bitcoin Exchange Market overall can slow down the mass adoption of bitcoin. Further, the failure of the Bitcoin Exchange Market or any other major component of the overall bitcoin ecosystem can have consequences for the Bitcoin Network, have an adverse effect on the price of bitcoin and could have a negative impact on the Bitcoin Instruments in which certain of the Funds invest.
There are many groups on Facebook where you can find likeminded folks who will happily talk crypto all day but the problem is that 99% of these groups are filled with people who have only a very basic understanding of cryptocurrency and the knowledge available here is not particularly strong. I have recently left almost every single group on Facebook as, in my opinion, they are largely filled with FUD.
The global regulatory landscape for bitcoin and other digital assets has been inconsistent and continues to evolve. Some countries have taken an accommodating approach to the regulation of digital assets while others have banned their use. There are various accommodative approaches a country may take. Sweden and Australia treat bitcoin as a currency, while Canada and Taiwan have labeled bitcoin as a digital or virtual currency, distinct from fiat currency. Norway categorizes bitcoin as a form of virtual asset or commodity. The United Kingdom treats bitcoin as private money and determined that the value added tax will not apply to bitcoin sales, but it can be charged on the commission instead. In April 2017, legislation took effect in Japan that treats bitcoin and other digital assets as included in the definition of currency. In July 2016, the European Commission released a draft directive that proposed applying counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering regulations to virtual currencies, and, in September 2016, the European Banking authority advised the European Commission to institute new regulation specific to virtual currencies, with amendments to existing regulation as a stopgap measure. Regulatory bodies in some countries such as India and Switzerland have declined to exercise regulatory authority when afforded the opportunity.
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.
Consistent with a client’s investment objective, the Advisor may enter into guarantee close agreements with certain brokers. In all such cases, the agreement calls for the execution price at least to match the closing price of the security. In some cases, depending upon the circumstances, the broker may obtain a price that is better than the closing price and which under the agreement provides additional benefits to clients. The Advisor will generally distribute such benefits pro rata to applicable client trades.
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.
XBT futures is a cash-settled contract that settles to a single, tradeable auction price. In designing XBT futures, Cboe leveraged its significant product development expertise to design an instrument that allows participants to implement trading strategies in a manner to which they are accustomed. The single price settlement process gives participants the option of using XBT futures to hedge their exposure in underlying bitcoin or gain exposure to traded bitcoin prices without holding bitcoin.
On September 15, 2015, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors finalized their proposed model regulatory framework for state regulation of participants in “virtual currency activities.” The Conference of State Bank Supervisors proposed framework is a non-binding model and would have to be independently adopted, in sum or in part, by state legislatures or regulators on a case-by-case basis. In July 2017, the Uniform Law Commission (the “ULC”), a private body of lawyers and legal academics from the several U.S. states, voted to finalize and approve a uniform model state law for the regulation of virtual currency businesses, including bitcoin (the “Uniform Virtual Currency Act”). Having been approved by the ULC, the Uniform Virtual Currency Act now goes to each of the U.S. states and territories for their consideration and would have to be independently adopted, in sum or in part, by state legislatures or regulators on a case-by-case basis.
With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet and the dependence on computer systems to perform necessary business functions, the Funds and the digital assets that underline the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Funds invest are susceptible to operational and information security risk. The digital nature of bitcoins and the irreversible nature of bitcoin transactions makes bitcoin an attractive target for theft, hacking and other cyber-attacks. 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 such as bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies or gaining access to 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. Such events have historically correlated with a drop in the price of bitcoin, which may adversely affect your investment in a Fund. 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 the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Funds invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses, the inability of a Fund’s 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 their service providers, counterparties and other market participants on which the Funds rely 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.
When you display any broker’s profile page on the CME list above, you will see on the right hand side this broker’s specialties (a list of industries and/or financial products). As of this articles publication (Nov. 24, 2017), only one broker has added Bitcoin to his list of specialties: Level Trading Field LLC. However, this does not mean that the other brokers won’t handle Bitcoin futures. We expect that more of them will adopt this specialty as soon as Bitcoin futures are on the market.