The CME Bitcoin futures contracts will be cash-settled, meaning that you will receive USD on the expiration date if your speculation was successful and you have not sold the derivative before the expiration date. You will not receive Bitcoin – that would be a physical settlement, even though Bitcoin is not a physical asset. This is a crucial difference because it enables traders to trade in Bitcoin futures without having a cryptocurrency wallet. Every transaction is done in USD.Thus, it is easy for mainstream traders to take part in this market.
Whether a Fund realizes a gain or loss from futures activities depends generally upon movements in the underlying currency, commodity, security or index. The extent of a Fund’s loss from an unhedged short position in futures contracts or from writing options on futures contracts is potentially unlimited, and investors may lose the amount that they invest plus any profits recognized on their investment. The Funds may engage in related closing transactions with respect to options on futures contracts. The Funds will engage in transactions in futures contracts and related options that are traded on a U.S. exchange or board of trade or that have been approved for sale in the U.S. by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”).
The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily those of VanEck, and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of VanEck.
• ETN Risk — The Fund is likely to obtain substantial exposure to the price movements of bitcoin by holding ETNs that provide exposure to the price of bitcoin. ETNs are unsecured, unsubordinated debt securities of an issuer that are listed and traded on a U.S. stock exchange. An ETN’s returns are generally linked to the performance of a particular market benchmark or strategy minus applicable fees. ETNs do not provide principal protection and may or may not make periodic coupon payments. ETNs are subject to credit risk, which is the risk that the issuer cannot pay interest or repay principal when it is due. Additionally, the value of an ETN may be influenced by time to maturity, level of supply and demand, volatility and lack of liquidity in the underlying market (e.g., the commodities market), changes in interest rates or the issuer’s credit rating, and other economic, legal, political or geographic events. The value of an investment in an ETN may be impacted by fees associated with the ETN. Structural aspects of the ETNs may impact their market value. Trading by affiliates of an ETN sponsor may create conflicts of interest. The issuer of an ETN may be unable to meet its obligations. The potential impact of Bitcoin Network forks on the value of a bitcoin ETN is unclear. ETNs issued by special purpose vehicles may include greater risk. ETNs are subject to risks associated with the underlying asset.
Example: If the futures contract price is $400, then you can buy 0.5btc worth of this and if the price of bitcoin goes up to $450 the futures contract price will go up, and the value increases from 0.5 BTC and you can just sell for a profit. Trading a synthetic derivative rather than spot bitcoin allows you to use margin leverage to more easily buy and sell -- the contracts are just a facilitation of the value.
The tax treatment of certain contracts (including regulated futures contracts and non-equity options) entered into by the Fund will be governed by Section 1256 of the Code (“Section 1256 contracts”). Gains (or losses) on these contracts generally are considered to be 60% long-term and 40% short-term capital gains or losses (“60/40”), although foreign currency gains or losses arising from certain Section 1256 contracts may be treated as ordinary in character (see “Foreign Currency Transactions” below). Also, section 1256 contracts held by a Fund at the end of each taxable year (and for purposes of the 4% excise tax, on certain other dates prescribed in the Code) are “marked-to-market” with the result that unrealized gains or losses are treated as though they were realized and the resulting gains or losses are treated as ordinary or 60/40 gains or losses, as appropriate.
• Lack of liquid markets, and possible manipulation of blockchain-based assets. Digital assets that are represented and trade on a blockchain may not necessarily benefit from viable trading markets. Stock exchanges have listing requirements and vet issuers, and perhaps users. These conditions may not necessarily be replicated on a blockchain, depending on the platform’s controls and other policies. The more lenient a blockchain is about vetting issuers of digital assets or users that transact on the platform, the higher the potential risk for fraud or the manipulation of digital assets. These factors may decrease liquidity or volume, or increase volatility of digital securities or other assets trading on a blockchain.
Interestingly, the cryptocurrency market seems to rise and fall simultaneously with the altcoins. Is a systemic issue that causes this harmonious rise and fall of prices on the exchanges? The answer is a little fuzzy, but there are several factors at play. Most exchanges use Bitcoin as the universal trading currency, which leads to many investors buying and selling Bitcoin to buy and sell altcoins. When bitcoin starts a bull run, many of the altcoins fall, as investors jump on the Bitcoin train and vice versa. It’s also systemic because most exchanges require Bitcoin rather than fiat currency to transact. It is easy to invest fiat currency in the market and then leave there as an investor trades it; moving it from one currency to another and not cashing it back to fiat currency. Furthermore, When the Bitcoin price falls or rises against the fiat currency, all the altcoins will usually follow. This is because all altcoin prices are based on their Bitcoin exchange rate, not their fiat currency exchange rate. The value of an altcoin in fiat currency is the value of the altcoin in Bitcoin and then Bitcoin’s value in that fiat currency. It is Bitcoin that strongly affects pricing.
If you want to speculate on the price of a cryptocurrency then the use of a Contract for Difference (CFD) is an option to consider. You won’t actually own the cryptocurrency, which means you don’t face the hassle and hurdles of trying to buy via one of the unregulated exchanges. Instead, a CFD is a financial instrument which allows you to speculate on price movements.
A Fund may cover its sale of a call option on a futures contract by taking a long position in the underlying futures contract at a price less than or equal to the strike price of the call option, or, if the long position in the underlying futures contract is established at a price greater than the strike price of the written (sold) call, the Fund will earmark/segregate liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the call and the price of the future. A Fund may also cover its sale of a call option by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently with the call option. A Fund may cover its sale of a put option on a futures contract by taking a short position in the underlying futures contract at a price greater than or equal to the strike price of the put option, or, if the short position in the underlying futures contract is established at a price less than the strike price of the written put, the Fund will segregate cash or liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the put and the price of the future. A Fund may also cover its sale of a put option by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently to the put option.
Distributions by a Fund to a shareholder that is not a “United States person” within the meaning of the Code (such a shareholder, a “foreign shareholder”) properly reported by the Fund as (1) Capital Gain Dividends, (2) short-term capital gain dividends, and (3) interest-related dividends, each as defined and subject to certain conditions described below, generally are not subject to withholding of U.S. federal income tax.
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.
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.
The rights of indemnification under the Declaration of Trust may be insured against by policies maintained by the Trust, and shall be severable, shall not affect any other rights to which any Covered Person may now or hereafter be entitled, shall continue as to a person who has ceased to be a Covered Person, and shall inure to the benefit of the heirs, executors and administrators of such a person. Nothing contained in the Declaration of Trust shall affect any rights to indemnification to which Trust personnel other than Covered Persons may be entitled by contract or otherwise under law.
While volatile movements take away the attractiveness of any asset, a certain amount of swing in price creates trading opportunities. This is something that many traders and speculators have been taking advantage of by buying the digital currency and then selling at a profit through an exchange. The whole process makes bitcoin exchanges an important part of the ecosystem since it facilitates the buying and selling of bitcoins, as well as futures trading.
The most common way to trade in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency derivatives today is through contract-for-difference (CFD) contracts. These CFD contracts are usually traded over the counter (OTC), meaning that they are not traded on exchanges but directly between participants. Due to the high volatility (exceeding 1.5-2x std from the mean) most of the OTC platforms do not provide leverage on bitcoin and other cryptos CFDs.