Changes in the Bitcoin Network could have an adverse effect on the operation and value of bitcoin, which could have an adverse effect on the value of Bitcoin Futures Contracts and the value of Fund Shares. The open source nature of the Bitcoin protocol permits any developer to review the underlying code and suggest changes to it via “Bitcoin Improvement Proposals”, or “BIPs.” If accepted by a sufficient number of miners, BIPs may result in substantial changes to the Bitcoin Network, including changes that result in “forks.” Such changes may influence
pursuit of its investment strategies will potentially be limited by the Fund’s intention to qualify for such treatment and could adversely affect the Fund’s ability to so qualify. The Fund can make certain investments, the treatment of which for these purposes is unclear. If, in any year, the Fund were to fail to qualify for the special tax treatment accorded a RIC and its shareholders, and were ineligible to or were not to cure such failure, the Fund would be taxed in the same manner as an ordinary corporation subject to U.S. federal income tax on all its income at the fund level. The resulting taxes could substantially reduce the Fund’s net assets and the amount of income available for distribution. In addition, in order to requalify for taxation as a RIC, the Fund could be required to recognize unrealized gains, pay substantial taxes and interest, and make certain distributions.
ProShare Advisors, pursuant to a separate Management Services Agreement, performs certain administrative services on behalf of the Funds, such as negotiating, coordinating and implementing the Trust’s contractual obligations with the Funds’ service providers; monitoring, overseeing and reviewing the performance of such service providers to ensure adherence to applicable contractual obligations; and preparing or coordinating reports and presentations to the Board of Trustees with respect to such service providers as requested or as deemed necessary. For these services, the Trust pays to ProShare Advisors a fee at the annual rate of 0.10% of average daily net assets for each of the Funds. ProShare Advisors has entered into an Advisory and Management Services Fee Waiver Agreement that waives this management services fee for the Morningstar Alternatives Solution ETF through at least October 31, 2018. Prior to this date, ProShare Advisors may not terminate the arrangement without the approval of the Board.
But… it's also possible that the institutional investors that are negative on bitcoin's prospects (and there's no shortage of those) may use the futures markets to put money behind their conviction. It's much easier to sell a futures contract with a lower-than-market price than it is to actually short bitcoin. These investors may well send signals to the actual bitcoin market that sends prices tumbling.
The fund performance for a Geared ProShares Fund can be estimated given any set of assumptions for the factors described above. The tables on the next five pages illustrate the impact of two factors, benchmark volatility and benchmark performance, on a Geared Fund. Benchmark volatility is a statistical measure of the magnitude of fluctuations in the returns of a benchmark and is calculated as the standard deviation of the natural logarithm of one plus the benchmark return (calculated daily), multiplied by the square root of the number of trading days per year (assumed to be 252). The tables show estimated Fund returns for a number of combinations of benchmark performance and benchmark volatility over a one-year period. Assumptions used in the tables include: (a) no dividends paid with respect to securities included in the underlying benchmark; (b) no Fund expenses; and (c) borrowing/lending rates (to obtain leverage or inverse exposure) of zero percent. If Fund expenses and/or actual borrowing lending rates were reflected, the Fund’s performance would be different than shown.
• Daily Position Limit Risk - Many U.S. futures exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in futures contract prices during a single trading day. Once the daily limit has been reached in a particular contract, no trades may be made that day at a price beyond that limit or trading may be suspended for specified periods during the trading day. In addition, these exchanges have established limits on the maximum amount of futures positions that any person may hold or control on such exchanges. These limits may restrict the amount of assets the Fund is able to invest in bitcoin futures contracts or have a negative impact on the price of such contracts. In order to comply with such limits, the Fund may be required to reduce the size of its outstanding positions or not enter into new positions that would otherwise be taken for the Fund. This could potentially subject the Funds to substantial losses or periods in which the Fund does not accept additional Creation Units.
Many expect bitcoin futures to stabilise the markets because big institutional investors will be able to trade bitcoin using all the flexibility present in sophisticated trading markets, with effective risk management and hedging strategies. Since the CME plans to set price limits on the trading range of bitcoin futures, the price of the coin is expected to become more stable. That is the optimistic outlook. It is reasonable to assume that if futures markets will indeed take off the way they are expected to, the market will eventually gravitate towards a less volatile state.
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.
However, many of these investors are still waiting to be convinced to take the leap into crypto. One thing that is still giving many institutional investors pause is the fact that trade management systems in the crypto world simply do not offer the sophistication they are used to in conventional trading. They’ve become accustomed to the support of reliable automated tools, and the prospect of working without those can be a serious roadblock.
The Distribution and Service Plan is intended to permit the financing of a broad array of distribution-related activities and services, as well as shareholder services, for the benefit of investors. These activities and services are intended to make the Shares an attractive investment alternative, which may lead to increased assets, increased investment opportunities and diversification, and reduced per share operating expenses. There are currently no plans to impose distribution fees.
To the extent that an Underlying RIC realizes net losses on its investments for a given taxable year, a Fund that invests in the Underlying RIC will not be able to benefit from those losses until (i) the Underlying RIC realizes gains that it can reduce by those losses, or (ii) the Fund recognizes its share of those losses when it disposes of shares in the Underlying RIC. Moreover, when a Fund makes such a disposition, any loss it recognizes will be a capital loss. A Fund will not be able to offset any capital losses from its dispositions of shares of the Underlying RIC against its ordinary income (including distributions deriving from net short-term capital gains realized by the Underlying RIC). In addition, a portion of such capital loss may be long-term, which will first offset the Fund’s capital gains, increasing the likelihood that the Fund’s short-term capital gains will be distributed to shareholders as ordinary income.
In contrast, if you are “going short” on Bitcoin, you assume that Bitcoin prices will fall. Buying put options will enable you to sell Bitcoin at some point in the future at a price that is higher than the future price you expect. In analogy to the example above, if the current Bitcoin price is 5,000 USD and you expect it to fall to 2,000 USD in 6 months, then put options allowing you to sell Bitcoin for 5,000 USD in 5 months (when everyone else is selling for 2000 USD) are very valuable.
• Bitcoin is available for trading 24-hours a day globally and, as such, the price of bitcoin may change dramatically when the market for bitcoin futures contracts is closed or when Fund shares are not available for trading on the Exchange. The price of bitcoin may change dramatically at times when investors are unable to buy or sell Fund shares.
Swap agreements are generally traded in OTC markets and have only recently become subject to regulation by the CFTC. CFTC rules, however, do not cover all types of swap agreements. Investors, therefore, may not receive the protection of CFTC regulation or the statutory scheme of the Commodity Exchange Act in connection with a Fund’s swap agreements. The lack of regulation in these markets could expose investors to significant losses under certain circumstances, including in the event of trading abuses or financial failure by participants. Unlike in futures contracts, the counterparty to uncleared OTC swap agreements is generally a single bank or other financial institution, rather than a clearing organization backed by a group of financial institutions. As a result, the Fund is subject to increased counterparty risk with respect to the amount it expects to receive from counterparties to
“One of the biggest issues when it comes to investing institutionally in digital assets is banks and larger institutions can’t hold an unregulated instrument in their balance sheet, and a futures contract is something they can hold,” said Gabor Gurbacs, director of digital-asset strategy at VanEck Associates Corp. With futures, “you don’t hold the physical bitcoin, which solves custody issues and counterparty risks with these less-regulated exchanges.”
• Active Management Risk — The performance of actively managed funds reflects, in part, the ability of ProShare Advisors to select investments and make investment decisions that are suited to achieving the Fund’s investment objective. ProShare Advisors’ judgments about the Fund’s investments may prove to be incorrect. If the investments selected and strategies employed by ProShare Advisors fail to produce the intended results, the Fund may not achieve its investment objective and could underperform other funds with a similar investment objective and/or strategies. The Fund does not seek to provide investment performance that would be opposite of a 30% investment in bitcoin futures contracts and a 70% investment in U.S. government securities.
Never put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify. While the potential to earn more is increased with the amount of money you invest into a coin, the potential to lose more is also magnified. Another way to think about it is to look at the cryptocurrency market as a whole; if you believe that this is just the beginning, then more than likely the entire market cap of cryptocurrencies will increase. What are the chances that this market cap increase will be entirely driven by one coin vs. being driven by many coins? The best way to safely capture the overall growth of cryptocurrency is to diversify and reap the benefits of growth from multiple coins. Also, fun fact — Between January 2016 and January 2018, Corgicoin has increased by 60,000x, and Verge has increased by 13,000x. During the same period, Bitcoin has increased by 34x. While you would have gotten impressive gains from Bitcoin, expanding into other coins could have landed you potentially larger ones.
ProShare Advisors believes that its compensation program is competitively positioned to attract and retain high-caliber investment professionals. The compensation package for portfolio managers consists of a fixed base salary, an annual incentive bonus opportunity and a competitive benefits package. A portfolio manager’s salary compensation is designed to be competitive with the marketplace and reflect a portfolio manager’s relative experience and contribution to the firm. Fixed base salary compensation is reviewed and adjusted annually to reflect increases in the cost of living and market rates.
• An interruption in Internet service or a limitation of Internet access could have a negative impact on bitcoin. The Bitcoin Network relies on users access to the Internet. A significant disruption of Internet connectivity could impede the functionality of the Bitcoin Network and adversely affect the price of bitcoin. Any technical disruptions or regulatory limitations that affect Internet access may have an adverse effect on the Bitcoin Network, the price of bitcoin and the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests. In addition to technical disruptions such as cyber-attacks, the potential elimination of the net neutrality regulations in the U.S. may have a negative impact on bitcoin and the Bitcoin ecosystem.
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.
• Intellectual property claims. A proliferation of recent startups attempting to apply blockchain technology in different contexts means the possibility of conflicting intellectual property claims could be a risk to an issuer, its operations or its business. This could also pose a risk to blockchain platforms that permit transactions in digital securities.
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.
And this is where the BRR comes in. The BRR is the reference rate that is relevant for futures contracts and options in Bitcoin. When a futures contract or call option expires on a certain day, the owner will receive the difference between the BRR and the Bitcoin price in the contract as cash (if the BRR is higher than the price in the contract, of course). The BRTI, in contrast, is a real-time statistic that is not binding for any contracts; it tells you for what price you can currently (in this second) buy or sell Bitcoin on the markets.