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.
Still elsewhere, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in a footnote, quoted me saying "Just because you mumble the word 'blockchain' doesn't make otherwise illegal things legal," which I hope is now an official CFTC position. And here is Tyler Cowen on bitcoin volatility and Siegel's paradox: "Volatility is a feature of Bitcoin, not a bug, and that is in part for reasons that have nothing to do with speculation or bubbliness, but rather follow from the contours of the utility function." And: "No, a Guy Didn't Scam $1 Million by Selling Chuck E. Cheese Tokens as Bitcoins."
Under normal market conditions, each Fund intends to invest substantially all of its assets in Benchmark Futures Contracts. The contractual obligations of a buyer or seller holding a futures contract to expiration may be satisfied by settling in cash as designated in the contract specifications. Alternatively, futures contracts may be closed out prior to expiration by making an offsetting sale or purchase of an identical futures contract on the same or linked exchange before the designated date of settlement. Once this date is reached, the futures contract “expires.” The Funds do not intend to hold bitcoin futures contracts through expiration, but instead to “roll” their respective positions. “Rolling” refers to a process whereby futures contracts nearing expiration are closed out and replaced with an identical futures contract with a later expiration date. Accordingly, the Funds are subjects to risks related to rolling.
In June 2015, the New York Department of Financial Services (the “NYDFS”) finalized a rule that requires most businesses involved in digital currency business activity in or involving New York, excluding merchants and consumers, to apply for a license (“BitLicense”) from the NYDFS and to comply with anti-money laundering, cyber security, consumer protection, and financial and reporting requirements, among others. As an alternative to the BitLicense in New York, firms can apply for a charter to become limited purpose trust companies qualified to engage in digital currency business activity. Other states have considered regimes similar to the BitLicense, or have required digital currency businesses to register with their states as money transmitters, such as Washington and Georgia, which results in digital currency businesses being subject to requirements similar to those of NYDFS’ BitLicense regime. Certain state regulators, such as the Texas Department of Banking, Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, have found that mere transmission of bitcoin, without activities involving transmission of fiat currency, does not constitute money transmission requiring licensure. The North Carolina Commissioner of Banks has issued guidance providing that North Carolina’s money transmission regulations only apply to the transmission of digital currency and not its use. In June 2014, the State of California adopted legislation that would formally repeal laws that could be interpreted as making illegal the use of bitcoin or other digital assets as a means of payment. In July 2017, Delaware amended its General Corporation Law to provide for the creation maintenance of certain required records by blockchain technology and permit its use for electronic transmission of stockholder communications.
The policy for each Fund regarding purchases and sales of securities is that primary consideration will be given to obtaining the most favorable prices and efficient executions of transactions. Consistent with this policy, when securities transactions are effected on a stock exchange, the policy is to pay commissions that are considered fair and reasonable without necessarily determining that the lowest possible commissions are paid in all circumstances. The Advisor believes that a requirement always to seek the lowest possible commission cost could impede effective portfolio management and preclude the Fund and the Advisor from obtaining a high quality of brokerage and execution services. In seeking to determine the reasonableness of brokerage commissions paid in any transaction, the Advisor relies upon its experience and knowledge regarding commissions generally charged by various brokers and on its judgment in evaluating the brokerage and execution services received from the broker. Such determinations are necessarily subjective and imprecise, as in most cases an exact dollar value for those services is not ascertainable. In addition to commission rates, when selecting a broker for a particular transaction, the Advisor considers but is not limited to the following efficiency factors: the broker’s availability, willingness to commit capital, reputation and integrity, facilities reliability, access to research, execution capacity and responsiveness.
Each Fund may purchase or sell futures contracts and options thereon as a substitute for a comparable market position in the underlying securities or to satisfy regulatory requirements. A physical-settlement futures contract generally obligates the seller to deliver (and the purchaser to take delivery of) a specified asset on the expiration date of the contract. A cash-settled futures contract obligates the seller to deliver (and the purchaser to accept) an amount of cash equal to a specific dollar amount (the contract multiplier) multiplied by the difference between the final settlement price of a specific futures contract and the price at which the agreement is made. No physical delivery of the underlying asset is made. 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 will each invest in cash-settled futures contracts where commodities are the underlying asset. 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 intend to achieve this exposure through investment in the ProShares Cayman Portfolio I, the ProShares Cayman Crude Oil Portfolio, the ProShares Cayman Bitcoin Futures Strategy Portfolio ProShares Cayman Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy Portfolio, ProShares Cayman Bitcoin Futures/Equity Strategy Portfolio and ProShares Cayman Bitcoin/Blockchain Strategy Portfolio, respectively, which may invest in futures contracts and options thereon.
Coinbase is not alone in making moves toward becoming an ATS. Recently, mobile payment app company Circle acquired Poloniex, another U.S.-based exchange, with plans to “clean up” the exchange. A slide that was initially leaked from a Circle presentation stated, “Circle has briefed the SEC on the transaction and indicated that upon closing that we will begin the process of registering the new entity with the SEC and FINRA as a Broker/Dealer and in turn as a licensed ATS…”
The proof-of-stake is a method of securing a cryptocurrency network and achieving distributed consensus through requesting users to show ownership of a certain amount of currency. It is different from proof-of-work systems that run difficult hashing algorithms to validate electronic transactions. The scheme is largely dependent on the coin, and there's currently no standard form of it. Some cryptocurrencies use a combined proof-of-work/proof-of-stake scheme.
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/Blockchain 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 Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (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.
Under Delaware law, the Trust is not required to hold an annual shareholders meeting if the 1940 Act does not require such a meeting. Generally, there will not be annual meetings of Trust shareholders. Trust shareholders may remove Trustees from office by votes cast at a meeting of Trust shareholders or by written consent. If requested by shareholders of at least 10% of the outstanding Shares of the Trust, the Trust will call a meeting of Funds’ shareholders for the purpose of voting upon the question of removal of a Trustee of the Trust and will assist in communications with other Trust shareholders.
Bitcoin is maintained on the decentralized, open source protocol of the peer-to-peer bitcoin computer network (the “Bitcoin Network”). No single entity owns or operates the Bitcoin Network. The infrastructure of the Bitcoin Network is collectively maintained by a decentralized user base. The Bitcoin Network is accessed through software, and software governs bitcoin’s creation, movement, and ownership. The value of bitcoin is determined in great part by the supply of (which is limited), and demand for, bitcoin in the global exchange markets for the trading of bitcoin (individually, “Bitcoin Exchanges” and collectively, the “Bitcoin Exchange Market”), market expectations for the adoption of bitcoin and the volume of private user-to-user transactions.
Under a Rule 12b-1 Distribution Plan (the “Plan”) adopted by the Board, each Fund may pay its distributor and financial intermediaries, such as broker-dealers and investment advisors, up to 0.25% on an annualized basis of the average daily net assets of a Fund as reimbursement or compensation for distribution related activities with respect to the Funds. Because these fees are paid out of each Fund’s assets on an on-going basis, over time these fees will increase the cost of your investment and may cost you more than paying other types of sales charges. For the prior fiscal year, no payments were made by the fund under the Plan.
If a shareholder is eligible for the benefits of a tax treaty, any effectively connected income or gain will generally be subject to U.S. federal income tax on a net basis only if it is also attributable to a permanent establishment maintained by the shareholder in the United States. More generally, foreign shareholders who are residents in a country with an income tax treaty with the United States may obtain different tax results than those described herein, and are urged to consult their tax advisors.
The price of bitcoin on individual bitcoin exchanges, as well as the broader Bitcoin Exchange Market generally, has experienced periods of extreme volatility. This volatility is due in part to low liquidity and the changes exhibited by an early stage technological innovation. 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 causing a negative impact on the performance of certain Funds which take a short position in bitcoin futures contracts. Conversely, government regulation and the perception of onerous regulatory actions may cause a drop in the price of bitcoin causing a negative impact on the performance of certain Funds which take a long position in bitcoin futures contracts. Developments related to the Bitcoin Network’s operations, Bitcoin Exchanges and the overall Bitcoin Exchange Market also contribute to the volatility in the price of bitcoin. These factors may continue to increase the volatility of the price of bitcoin which may have a negative impact on the performance of the Bitcoin Instruments and on the performance of the Funds.
An Authorized Participant who exchanges securities for Creation Units generally will recognize a gain or a loss. The gain or loss will be equal to the difference between the market value of the Creation Units at the time and the sum of the exchanger’s aggregate basis in the securities surrendered plus the amount of cash paid for such Creation Units. An Authorized Participant who redeems Creation Units will generally recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between the exchanger’s basis in the Creation Units and the sum of the aggregate market value of any securities received plus the amount of any cash received for such Creation Units. The IRS, however, may assert that a loss realized upon an exchange of securities for Creation Units cannot be deducted currently under the rules governing “wash sales,” or on the basis that there has been no significant change in economic position. Persons purchasing or redeeming Creation Units should consult their own tax advisors with respect to the tax treatment of any creation or redemption transaction.
Each of the Funds may enter into repurchase agreements with financial institutions in pursuit of its investment objectives, as “cover” for the investment techniques it employs, or for liquidity purposes. Under a repurchase agreement, a Fund purchases a debt security and simultaneously agrees to sell the security back to the seller at a mutually agreed-upon future price and date, normally one day or a few days later. The resale price is greater than the purchase price, reflecting an agreed-upon market interest rate during the purchaser’s holding period. While the maturities of the underlying securities in repurchase transactions may be more than one year, the term of each repurchase agreement will always be less than one year. The Funds follow certain procedures designed to minimize the risks inherent in such agreements. These procedures include effecting repurchase transactions generally with major global financial institutions. The creditworthiness of each of the firms that is a party to a repurchase agreement with the Funds will be monitored by the Advisor. In addition, the value of the collateral underlying the repurchase agreement will always be at least equal to the repurchase price, including any accrued interest earned on the repurchase agreement. In the event of a default or bankruptcy by a selling financial institution, a Fund will seek to liquidate such collateral which could involve certain costs or delays and, to the extent that proceeds from any sale upon a default of the obligation to repurchase were less than the repurchase price, the Fund could suffer a loss. A Fund also may experience difficulties and incur certain costs in exercising its rights to the collateral and may lose the interest the Fund expected to receive under the repurchase agreement. Repurchase agreements usually are for short periods, such as one week or less, but may be longer. It is the current policy of the Funds not to invest in repurchase agreements that do not mature within seven days if any such investment, together with any other illiquid assets held by the Fund, amounts to more than 15% of the Fund’s total net assets. The investments of each of the Funds in repurchase agreements at times may be substantial when, in the view of the Advisor, liquidity, investment, regulatory, or other considerations so warrant.
By now you may ask yourself, “If I think that the price of an asset is going to rise, why should I buy a call option and not the asset itself?” The answer is this: Options give you leverage. That means that with a limited amount of capital, you can profit much more by buying options than assets – but also lose much more. This is because a small difference in the price of the underlying asset immediately leads to a substantial change in the price of the derivative. For example, when pork belly prices rise from 1,000 USD to 1,100 USD (an increase of 10%), call options for 1,000 USD suddenly become much more valuable – their prices may rise from 10.5 USD to 105 USD. Thus, if you have invested all of your capital in pork bellies, you will win 10% – if you have invested in pork belly call options, you will pocket a 1,000% profit.