Futures markets create an immense amount of flexibility. They enable investors to readily bet on an asset or bet against it (go long or go short), and they are usually characterised by an immense amount of leverage. In the case of bitcoin, this means one can trade a high volume of coins while only paying for a fraction of them, essentially operating with borrowed money. Leverage is used to amplify profits on a small volume of assets, but it is a double-edged sword in that it also amplifies losses.
Ripple is an open-source digital payment network, and it’s already being used by some of the world’s largest banks – such as the bank of Tokyo and Santandar. XRP has shown significant potential recently and has been turning a lot of heads. Ripple aims to become the go-to tool for banks on a global scale, while still giving an exciting investment opportunity to crypto advocates and solo investors. Ripple has many haters and I’ve been burned by it myself in the past – I sold 30,000 XRP at 20 cents… painful. Still, I did buy them at 3 cents a pop, so it could have been worse. I hold 10,000 XRP today and will hold until 2022.
Bitcoin Gold (BTG) is the second fork from Bitcoin (i.e. the second version to stem from Bitcoin’s source code). It retains Bitcoin’s transaction history, meaning that if you owned Bitcoin before the fork, you now own the equal amount of Bitcoin Gold. This cryptocurrency aims to introduce an alternative mining algorithm that is less susceptible to ASIC-based optimization, therefore allowing users to earn more with their computer cycles.
In the event that a Fund invests in an Underlying RIC that is not publicly offered within the meaning of the Code, the Fund’s redemption of shares of such Underlying RIC may cause the Fund to be treated as receiving a dividend taxable as ordinary income on the full amount of the redemption instead of being treated as realizing capital gain (or loss) on the redemption of the shares of the Underlying RIC.
A Bitcoin futures contract is exactly what you would expect from the example above, replacing pork bellies with Bitcoin. It is a contract that enables you to buy Bitcoin at a predetermined price at a specific point in the future. For example, if today’s Bitcoin price is 8,000 USD per BTC and you expect it to rise to 10,000 USD per BTC in 4 weeks, then entering a contract which allows you to buy Bitcoin at 9,000 USD in 4 weeks is highly attractive.
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.
Each Fund’s portfolio turnover rate, to a great extent, will depend on the purchase, redemption and exchange activity of the Fund’s investors. A Fund’s portfolio turnover may vary from year to year, as well as within a year. The nature of the Funds may cause the Funds to experience substantial differences in brokerage commissions from year to year. The overall reasonableness of brokerage commissions is evaluated by the Advisor based upon its knowledge of available information as to the general level of commissions paid by other institutional investors for comparable services. High portfolio turnover and correspondingly greater brokerage commissions depend, to a great extent, on the purchase, redemption, and exchange activity of a Fund’s investors, as well as each Fund’s investment objective and strategies. Consequently, it is difficult to estimate what each Fund’s actual portfolio turnover rate will be in the future. However, it is expected that the portfolio turnover experienced by the Funds from year to year, as well as within a year, may be substantial. A higher portfolio turnover rate would likely involve correspondingly greater brokerage commissions and transaction and other expenses that would be borne by the Funds. The nature of the Funds may cause the Funds to experience substantial differences in brokerage commissions from year to year. The overall reasonableness of brokerage commissions is evaluated by the Advisor based upon its knowledge of available information as to the general level of commissions paid by other institutional investors for comparable services. In addition, a Fund’s portfolio turnover level may adversely affect the ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective. “Portfolio Turnover Rate” is defined under the rules of the SEC as the value of the securities purchased or securities sold, excluding all securities whose maturities at time of acquisition were one year or less, divided by the average monthly value of such securities owned during the year. Based on this definition, instruments with remaining maturities of less than one year, including swap agreements, options and futures contracts in which the Funds invest, are excluded from the calculation of Portfolio Turnover Rate for each Fund. For those Funds that commenced operations prior to May 31, 2017, each such Fund’s turnover rate information is set forth in the annual report to shareholders. Portfolio turnover rates are also shown in each Fund’s summary prospectus.
The Funds may invest in bitcoin-based futures contracts, swap agreements, and options contracts, which are types of derivative contracts. A derivative refers to any financial instrument whose value is derived, at least in part, from the price of an underlying security, commodity, asset, rate, or index. The use of derivatives presents risks different from, and possibly greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in traditional securities. Changes in the value of a derivative may not correlate perfectly with the underlying security, asset, rate or index. Gains or losses in a derivative may be magnified and may be much greater than the derivative’s original cost. Because bitcoin-based derivatives were only recently introduced, the degree to which bitcoin-based derivatives are likely to provide exposure to movements in the price of bitcoin is extremely uncertain. If market participants executing trades in bitcoin-based derivatives face constraints, including capital constraints, security risks, or high execution costs with respect to direct investments in bitcoin, the price at which bitcoin-based derivatives trade may fail to capture price movements in the underlying price of bitcoin. Moreover, it is not clear how changes to the Bitcoin Network and determinations by any relevant derivatives exchange with respect to such changes to the Bitcoin Network will affect the value of any positions in bitcoin-based derivatives. [[In December 2015, the SEC proposed a new rule to regulate the use of derivatives by registered investment companies, such as the Fund. Whether and when this proposed rule will be adopted and its potential effects on the Fund are unclear as of the date of this Prospectus.]]
Basically, if you trade margin spot on a site like Kraken or Bitfinex, you will pay financing fees while you hold the position open. The same goes for CFD sites like WhaleClub or 1Broker. With bitcoin futures, you are able to trade margin without expending interest, because counterparties to the contract pay a fee to open and close the contract, and the exchange just manages the risk, so no money is really being lent!
One traditional attraction of trading futures is the ability to use relatively small amounts of money to potentially achieve outsized returns. In many futures markets the margin, the amount of money that your broker requires up-front before executing the trade can be quite small compared to the ultimate value of the contract. For example, as of 22-Dec-2017, each E-mini S&P 500 contract was worth $134K ($50*S&P 500 index value)—this “list price” of the contract is called its notional value. The CME only requires you to maintain a minimum margin of $4.5K (3.4% of notional) to control this contract (brokers often require additional margin). Margin requirements this low are only possible because the volatility of the S&P 500 is well understood and your margin account balance is adjusted at the end of every trading day to account for the winnings or losses of the day. If your account balance falls below the margin minimum of $4.5K you’ll need to quickly add money to your account or your position will be summarily closed out by your broker. On the plus side, if you’ve predicted the S&P’s direction correctly your profits will be that same as if you completely owned the underlying stocks in the index. A +1% daily move in the S&P500 would yield $1340 in profit even though you only have $4500 invested— a 29% return—this multiplier effect is called leverage.
Knowing their estimated costs and profit requirements the arbitrageur determines a minimum difference they need between the futures’ prices and the spot price before they will enter the market. They then monitor the price difference between Bitcoin futures and the Bitcoin exchanges and if large enough they act to profit on that gap. For example, if a specific Bitcoin future (e.g., February contract) is trading sufficiently higher than the current Bitcoin exchange price they will short that Bitcoin future and hedge their position by buying Bitcoins on the exchange. At that point, if they have achieved trade prices within their targets, they have locked in a guaranteed profit. They will hold those positions until contract expiration (or until they can cover their short futures and sell Bitcoins at a profit).
Each Fund intends to invest to a significant extent in bitcoin futures contracts. Each Fund expects to gain exposure to bitcoin futures contracts by investing a portion of its assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary of such Fund organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands (each, a “Subsidiary”). Each Subsidiary is advised by ProShare Advisors, the Fund’s investment advisor. Unlike the Fund, a Subsidiary is not an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). Each Fund’s investment in the Subsidiary is intended to provide the Fund with exposure to bitcoin futures contracts in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. Each Fund will invest up to 25% of its total assets in its corresponding Subsidiary. Except as otherwise noted, references to a Fund’s investment strategies and risks include the investment strategies and risks of its underlying Subsidiary.
Having said that, bitcoin price action remains fraught with wild and inexplicable gaps, like a $400 drop and rise in an hour in the late hours of July 30, according to Bloomberg. This particular trade, and unwind seems to have affected bitcoin pricing globally and likely impacted trading of the U.S. listed contracts as well. Volumes and open interest seemed to have increased around the time of this large trade unwind. It could be a coincidence, though I suspect that some smart traders, aware of the situation, put short trades on in these future contracts to take advantage of the forced unwind.
Unsponsored ADR programs are organized independently and without the cooperation of the issuer of the underlying securities. As a result, available information concerning the issuers may not be as current for unsponsored ADRs, and the price of unsponsored depositary receipts may be more volatile than if such instruments were sponsored by the issuer and/or there may be no correlation between available information and the market value.
Cboe Futures Exchange, LLC (CFE) launched trading in Cboe bitcoin futures at 5:00 p.m. Central Time on December 10 under the ticker symbol “XBT”. XBT℠ futures are cash-settled contracts based on the Gemini’s auction price for bitcoin, denominated in U.S. dollars. Gemini Trust Company, LLC (Gemini) is a digital asset exchange and custodian founded in 2014 that allows customers to buy, sell, and store digital assets such as bitcoin, and is subject to fiduciary obligations, capital reserve requirements, and banking compliance standards of the New York State Department of Financial Services.3
The NAV per share of each Fund is computed by dividing the value of the net assets of such Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by its total number of Fund shares outstanding. Expenses and fees are accrued daily and taken into account for purposes of determining NAV. The NAV of each Fund is calculated by JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association. The NAV of each Fund is generally determined each business day at the close of regular trading of the (ordinarily 3:00 p.m. Eastern time). The Fund’s investments are generally valued at their market value using information provided by a pricing service or market quotations. Short-term securities are valued on the basis of amortized cost or based on market prices. In addition, routine valuation of certain other derivatives is performed using procedures approved by the Board.
Each Fund may invest in money market instruments, which short-term cash instruments that have a remaining maturity of 397 days or less and exhibit high credit profiles, or cash or cash equivalents such as other high credit quality, short-term fixed income or similar securities, including (i) money market funds, (ii) U.S. Treasury Bills, which are U.S. government securities that have initial maturities of one year or less, and are supported by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, and (iii) Repurchase Agreements, which are contracts in which a seller of securities, usually U.S. government securities or other money market instruments, agrees to buy them back at a specified time and price. Repurchase agreements are primarily used by the Funds as a short-term investment vehicle for cash positions.
The Board of Trustees of the Trust reserves the right to declare a split or a consolidation in the number of Shares outstanding of any Fund, and may make a corresponding change in the number of Shares constituting a Creation Unit, in the event that the per Share price in the secondary market rises (or declines) to an amount that falls outside the range deemed desirable by the Board.
It is important to note, however, that leverage means that your potential losses may also be much higher. If pork belly prices fall, call options lose value in a much higher proportion than the pork bellies themselves. In the above example, if the price of pork bellies falls from 1,000 to 900 USD (by 10%), the price of call options may fall from 10.5 USD to almost zero, resulting in a near-total loss of your funds instead of a small loss of just 10%.