Bitcoin relies on blockchain technology. “Blockchain” is a decentralized database. Transactions are grouped in blocks and then chained together through cryptographic links. Blockchain is designed so that the chain can be added to, but not edited. This structure is called a “distributed ledger.” Transactions in the distributed ledger are permanently recorded and can never disappear, although theft and loss of bitcoin can occur. While bitcoin has grown in popularity, it’s still not nearly as widely accepted as traditional currency.
The first decentralized cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was created in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It used SHA-256, a cryptographic hash function, as its proof-of-work scheme. In April 2011, Namecoin was created as an attempt at forming a decentralized DNS, which would make internet censorship very difficult. Soon after, in October 2011, Litecoin was released. It was the first successful cryptocurrency to use scrypt as its hash function instead of SHA-256. Another notable cryptocurrency, Peercoin was the first to use a proof-of-work/proof-of-stake hybrid. IOTA was the first cryptocurrency not based on a blockchain, and instead uses the Tangle. Many other cryptocurrencies have been created though few have been successful, as they have brought little in the way of technical innovation. On 6 August 2014, the UK announced its Treasury had been commissioned to do a study of cryptocurrencies, and what role, if any, they can play in the UK economy. The study was also to report on whether regulation should be considered.
“Qualified dividend income” received by an individual is taxed at the rates applicable to net capital gain. In order for some portion of the dividends received by a Fund shareholder to be qualified dividend income, the Fund must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to some portion of the dividend-paying stocks in its portfolio and the shareholder must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the Fund’s Shares. A dividend will not be treated as qualified dividend income (at either the Fund or shareholder level) (1) if the dividend is received with respect to any share of stock held for fewer than 61 days during the 121-day period beginning on the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend (or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date), (2) to the extent that the recipient is under an obligation (whether pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) to make related payments with respect to positions in substantially similar or related property, (3) if the recipient elects to have the dividend income treated as investment income for purposes of the limitation on deductibility of investment interest, or (4) if the dividend is received from a foreign corporation that is (a) not eligible for the benefits of a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States (with the exception of dividends paid on stock of such a foreign corporation that is readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States) or (b) treated as a passive foreign investment company. In general, distributions of investment income reported by a Fund as derived from qualified dividend income will be treated as qualified dividend income in the hands of a shareholder taxed as an individual, provided the shareholder meets the holding period and other requirements described above with respect to the Fund’s Shares.
The right of redemption may be suspended or the date of payment postponed with respect to any Fund (1) for any period during which the Exchange is closed (other than customary weekend and holiday closings); (2) for any period during which trading on the Exchange is suspended or restricted; (3) for any period during which an emergency exists as a result of which disposal of the shares of the Fund’s portfolio securities or determination of its NAV is not reasonably practicable; (4) in such other circumstance as is permitted by the SEC; or (5) for up to 14 calendar days for any of the Global Funds or Short or Ultra International ProShares Funds during an international local holiday, as described below in “Other Information”.
On March 18, 2013, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) a bureau of the US Department of the Treasury, issued interpretive guidance relating to the application of the Bank Secrecy Act to distributing, exchanging and transmitting “virtual currencies.” More specifically, it determined that a user of virtual currencies (such as bitcoin) for its own account will not be considered a money service business (“MSB”) or be required to register, report and perform recordkeeping; however, an administrator or exchanger of virtual currency must be a registered money services business under FinCEN’s money transmitter regulations. As a result, Bitcoin Exchanges that deal with U.S. residents or otherwise fall under U.S. jurisdiction are required to obtain licenses and comply with FinCEN regulations. FinCEN released additional guidance clarifying that, under the facts presented, miners acting solely for their own benefit, software developers, hardware manufacturers, escrow service providers and investors in bitcoin would not be required to register with FinCEN on the basis of such activity alone, but that Bitcoin Exchanges, certain types of payment processors and convertible digital asset administrators would likely be required to register with FinCEN on the basis of the activities described in the October 2014 and August 2015 letters. FinCEN has also taken significant enforcement steps against companies alleged to have violated its regulations, including the assessment in July 2017 of a civil money penalty in excess of $110 million against BTC-e for alleged willful violation of U.S. anti-money laundering laws.
Futures contracts derive their value from an asset and more or less follow the movements of the underlying commodity, in our case: bitcoin. They ultimately settle at price of the commodity in the future on a particular exchange, or an index that represents a basket of prices at different exchanges. So if you have a weekly future's contract and you don't want to sell out of it on the market, then it will expire at the price at a specific time when Friday comes and if you want to maintain your position you must re-open on the new contract period. In the weekly example, if a contract is issued at April 14, 2017, it dies on April 21, 2017. If you buy the contract at a price of $1,100 and you don't sell it for the whole week, and the price ends on April 21 at $1,200, then you profit.
The existence of market makers (e.g., Virtu Financial) refutes a common assertion about futures—that there‘s always a loser for every winner, that it’s a zero-sum game. It’s true that derivatives like stock options and futures are created in matched pairs—a long and a short contract. If two speculators own those two contracts the profits on one side are offset by losses on the other but market makers are not speculators. In general, they’re not betting on the direction of the market. They act as intermediaries, selling to buyers at the higher ask price and buying from sellers at the lower bid price— collecting the difference.
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.
The most important feature of futures is that you never have to sell bitcoin ever again. Seriously. Why would you sell into fiat when you are concerned about a possible price drop? If you want to short bitcoin, then with futures you can simply "sell" or "short" the derivatives contracts and earn more bitcoin when the price drops -- so that your fiat value is the same or more if you use leverage. Of course you can also buy the contracts and multiply your bitcoin when the bitcoin price goes up! But think for a moment how important this tool is: earn more bitcoin when the bitcoin price drops, and you effectively do NOT have to sell to fiat anymore. And with the power of margin leverage, you don't have to risk too much Bitcoin to take meaningful directional positions.
Cryptocurrency is also used in controversial settings in the form of online black markets, such as Silk Road. The original Silk Road was shut down in October 2013 and there have been two more versions in use since then. In the year following the initial shutdown of Silk Road, the number of prominent dark markets increased from four to twelve, while the amount of drug listings increased from 18,000 to 32,000.
Mortgage-backed securities issued by private issuers, whether or not such obligations are subject to guarantees by the private issuer, may entail greater risk than obligations directly or indirectly guaranteed by the U.S. government. The average life of a mortgage-backed security is likely to be substantially shorter than the original maturity of the mortgage pools underlying the securities. Prepayments of principal by mortgagors and mortgage foreclosures will usually result in the return of the greater part of principal invested far in advance of the maturity of the mortgages in the pool.
Recent bitcoin futures contract announcements from CBOE, CME, and Nasdaq have generated tremendous interest in digital assets. Bitcoin futures have been highly anticipated as they will provide traditional financial institutions with one of the first opportunities to meaningfully participate in the digital asset space via a regulated investment framework. It is an opportunity for Wall Street to catch up with Main Street on bitcoin. With the impending launch of U.S.-listed bitcoin futures, investors may wonder what the bitcoin futures curve might look like. Using information from existing digital asset derivative trading platforms such as Bitmex, OKCoin, CryptoFacilities, and BTCC (all exchanges outside of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission purview), MVIS Research has constructed an approximate curve based on non-U.S. bitcoin futures trading on these exchanges. These are real trading platforms revealing real volume.
The Funds may engage in short sales transactions. A short sale is a transaction in which a Fund sells a security it does not own in anticipation that the market price of that security will decline. To complete such a transaction, a Fund must borrow the security to make delivery to the buyer. The Fund is then obligated to replace the security borrowed by borrowing the same security from another lender, purchasing it at the market price at the time of replacement or paying the lender an amount equal to the cost of purchasing the security. The price at such time may be more or less than the price at which the security was sold by the Fund. Until the security is replaced, the Fund is required to repay the lender any dividends it receives, or interest which accrues, during the period of the loan. To borrow the security, the Fund also may be required to pay a premium, which would increase the cost of the security sold. The net proceeds of the short sale will be retained by the broker, to the extent necessary to meet the margin requirements, until the short position is closed out. A Fund also will incur transaction costs in effecting short sales.
Update 1st October 2018: The cryptocurrency market has been volatile as ever over the last 6 months. Unless you are a skilled trader, it is harder to make money in a bear market than in a bull market – and we have been in a bear market for some time now. Personally, I have stopped trading and I am now focussing on growing my portfolio passively using a cryptocurrency trading bot – you can find out more about this here. If you are new to crypto, read on!
3. Make loans to other persons, except that the acquisition of bonds, debentures or other corporate debt securities and investment in government obligations, commercial paper, pass-through instruments, certificates of deposit, bankers’ acceptances and repurchase agreements and purchase and sale contracts and any similar instruments shall not be deemed to be the making of a loan, and except, further, that the Fund may lend its portfolio securities, provided that the lending of portfolio securities may be made only in accordance with applicable law and the guidelines set forth in the Prospectus and this SAI, as they may be amended from time to time.
Banks may not provide banking services, or may cut off banking services, to businesses that provide bitcoin-related services or that accept bitcoin as payment, which could damage the public perception of bitcoin and the utility of bitcoin as a payment system and could decrease the price of bitcoin and the Bitcoin Instruments and adversely affect an investment in the Funds.
While these rules are by no means the only lessons you need, they’re definitely a great starting point. Sometimes, though, things are easier said than done, such as watching your portfolio value plummet and still having the iron willpower of resisting the sell button. One of the best solutions I’ve found to this was to join a community of like-minded cryptocurrency investors. Educated and smart crypto-traders, as well as the community members, will all be there to support your efforts and will be holding with you in the rough times.
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.