The CME Group contract (symbol “BTC”) began trading on December 18, 2017, building off of the success of the BRR and demand for a regulated trading venue for the digital asset market. The contract is cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR) which serves as a once-a-day reference rate of the U.S. dollar price of bitcoin. Bitcoin futures are listed on and subject to the rules of CME.2
When you hear "margin", you may be thinking that you are borrowing money to trade bitcoin futures. This is not quite true. A key feature of these futures contracts is that the leverage comes from counterparties providing it to one another, not from the exchange lending funds and not from any bitcoin being lent from third parties. The contracts are simply like stocks with a market price, which represents the agreements between traders to take the opposing sides of where price of bitcoin will go, so no actual bitcoins are being exchanged per se, however the profit and loss between counterparties is very real!
its distribution requirements, and could affect the amount, timing or character of the income distributed to shareholders by the Fund. Investments by a Fund in a foreign subsidiary and shares of other investment companies could affect the amount, timing or character of the Fund’s distributions to shareholders relative to the Fund’s distributions had it invested directly in the securities held by such a foreign subsidiary or such other investment companies.
• Compounding Risk — In the course of managing the Fund’s investments, ProShare Advisors will need to periodically adjust the Fund’s holdings in order to maintain investment exposure approximately equivalent to the Fund’s assets. This process entails obtaining additional inverse exposure as the Fund experiences gains, and reducing inverse exposure as the Fund experiences losses. The higher the volatility of the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests, the more such rebalancing can adversely affect the Fund’s performance.
• 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.
A bitcoin exchange operates somewhat similarly to online stock trading brokers, where customers deposit their fiat currency (or bitcoins) to carry out trades. However, not all bitcoin exchanges offer such services. Some exchanges are more like wallets and thus provide limited trading options or storage of currency (both digital and fiat) for trading. The bigger and more elaborate exchanges offer trades between different cryptocurrencies, as well as between digital and fiat currencies. The number of currencies supported by an exchange varies from one exchange to another. (For more, see: Why Is Bitcoin’s Value So Volatile.)
Look, you and I are sophisticated, and we get that "bitcoin's price increase is deflationary and makes it a bad currency" is not a good argument against bitcoin, because "bitcoin is a bad currency" is not a good argument against bitcoin. (People keep making it though.) Bitcoin's value proposition -- much like that of gold -- is that it is an uncorrelated store of value, not that it is useful for buying a sandwich. But at the same time you have to watch out for business models that are based on the casual assumption that bitcoin works just like a currency. "Cryptocurrency-financed warehouse lending" has the word "cryptocurrency" in it, so it's worth billions of dollars, but I'm not sure it works as a business model.
In traditional financial markets, derivatives are used as speculation objects as well as insurance against losses. The latter is known as hedging. One popular variety of derivatives used for hedging are called futures. A future is a contract between two parties in which one party agrees to pay the other a predetermined amount of money for an underlying asset at a specific point in time.