• 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.
That's why liquidity and volume are essential to a quality exchange. If you enter that contract at $400 and you see bitcoin spot price jumping to $500 but nobody is trading futures so you can't sell it to them, you get screwed. Luckily at this point in 2016 there are numerous options for trading futures that are liquid and settle on short time horizons. So you can typically trade contracts and get in and out of them with decent spreads and reasonable fees.
Here is the story of Longfin Corp., a fin-tech-ish company that was listed on Nasdaq on Wednesday and then announced on Friday that it was acquiring Ziddu.com, "a blockchain-empowered global micro-lending solutions provider," causing its stock to go up by more than 1,200 percent and giving it a market capitalization of some $6.2 billion as of yesterday's close. LongFin's offering circular is a fun read -- it describes its founder and chief executive officer, who also happens to be the controlling shareholder of Ziddu.com, as "a financial wizard" and "a true believer in disruptive technologies" who "believes that every piece of information is worth millions" -- but even better is the press release describing the Ziddu acquisition:
The DJ Brookfield Global Infrastructure ETF, the Global Listed Private Equity ETF, the Merger ETF, the MSCI EAFE Dividend Growers ETF, and the MSCI Europe Dividend Growers ETF contain portfolio investments that are primarily listed or traded on foreign markets. To the extent a Fund’s portfolio investments trade in foreign markets on days when a Fund is not open for business or when the primary exchange for the Shares is not open, the value of the Fund’s assets may vary and shareholders may not be able to purchase or sell Fund Shares and Authorized Participants may not be able to create or redeem Creation Units. Also, certain portfolio investments may not be traded on days a Fund is open for business.
interest, taxes, dividends (including dividend expenses on securities sold short), litigation, indemnification, expenses associated with investment in other funds as permitted by the then current registration statement, and extraordinary expenses as determined under generally accepted accounting principles) to the extent total annual Fund operating expenses, as a percentage of average daily net assets, exceed 0.95% through September 30, 2018 (0.30% for the Inflation Expectations ETF, 0.60% for the Global Listed Private Equity ETF, 0.50% for the Short Term USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF and the CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF, and 0.75% for the Merger ETF each through September 30, 2018. ProShare Advisors, on behalf of the Morningstar Alternatives Solution ETF, has contractually agreed to waive investment advisory and management services fees and to reimburse other expenses (exclusive of transaction costs, interest, taxes, dividends (including dividend expenses on securities sold short), litigation, indemnification, expenses associated with investment in other funds as permitted by the then current registration statement, and extraordinary expenses as determined under generally accepted accounting principles but inclusive of acquired fund fees and expenses) to the extent total annual Fund operating expenses, as a percentage of average daily net assets, exceed 0.95% through September 30, 2018. After such date, the expense limitation may be terminated or revised by ProShare Advisors. Amounts waived or reimbursed in a particular contractual period may be recouped by ProShare Advisors within five years of the end of that contractual period, however, such recoupment will be limited to the lesser of any expense limitation in place at the time of recoupment or the expense limitation in place at the time of waiver or reimbursement.
• The bitcoin exchanges on which bitcoin trades are relatively new and, in most cases, largely unregulated and, therefore, may be more exposed to 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.
The Trust has entered into an agreement with Foreside Management Services, LLC (“Foreside”), pursuant to which Foreside provides the Trust with the services of an individual to serve as the Trust’s Principal Financial Officer and Treasurer. Neither Foreside nor the Treasurer have a role in determining the investment policies of the Trust or Funds, or which securities are to be purchased or sold by the Trust or a Fund. The Trust pays Foreside an annual flat fee of $100,000 per year and an additional annual flat fee of $3,500 per Fund, and will reimburse Foreside for certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Foreside in providing services to the Trust. For the fiscal years ended May 31, 2015, May 31, 2016 and May 31, 2017, the Trust paid $533,544, $533,860, and $481,869, respectively, to Foreside for services pursuant to its agreement. Foreside is located at Three Canal Plaza, Suite 100, Portland, ME 04101.
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.
There may be circumstances outside the control of the Advisor, Trust, Administrator (as defined below), transfer agent, Custodian (as defined below), any sub-custodian, Distributor (as defined below), and/or a Fund that make it, for all practical purposes, impossible to re-position such Fund and/or to process a purchase or redemption order. Examples of such circumstances include: natural disasters; public service disruptions or utility problems such as those caused by fires, floods, extreme weather conditions, and power outages resulting in telephone, telecopy, and computer failures; market conditions or activities causing trading halts; systems failures involving computer or other information systems affecting the aforementioned parties, as well as the DTC, the NSCC, or any other participant in the purchase process; and similar extraordinary events. Accordingly, while the Advisor has implemented and tested a business continuity plan that transfers functions of any disrupted facility to another location and has effected a disaster recovery plan, circumstances, such as those above, may prevent a Fund from being operated in a manner consistent with its investment objective and/or principal investment strategies.
It is not an endorsement of the firms listed, and no significance should be attached to a firm's inclusion or omission. CFE has not investigated the background or disciplinary history of any of the firms listed or of any individual broker in connection with providing this list. The selection of an FCM, broker, or clearing firm involves matters of personal preference. In choosing a firm, an investor should ask questions and take into account such factors as the investor individually regards as important.
For hedging purposes, the Funds may invest in forward currency contracts to hedge either specific transactions (transaction hedging) or portfolio positions (position hedging). Transaction hedging is the purchase or sale of forward currency contracts with respect to specific receivables or payables of the Funds in connection with the purchase and sale of portfolio securities. Position hedging is the sale of a forward currency contract on a particular currency with respect to portfolio positions denominated or quoted in that currency.
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.
that receive different proportions of the interest and principal distributions from a pool of mortgage assets. The Funds will only invest in SMBS whose mortgage assets are U.S. government obligations. A common type of SMBS will be structured so that one class receives some of the interest and most of the principal from the mortgage assets, while the other class receives most of the interest and the remainder of the principal. If the underlying mortgage assets experience greater than anticipated prepayments of principal, each Fund may fail to fully recoup its initial investment in these securities. The market value of any class that consists primarily or entirely of principal payments generally is unusually volatile in response to changes in interest rates.
• A Fund’s income from or the proceeds of dispositions of its non-U.S. investments may be subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by foreign countries, which will reduce the Fund’s return on and taxable distributions in respect of its non-U.S. investments. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States may reduce or eliminate these taxes. If more than 50% of the value of a Fund’s total assets at the close of a taxable year consists of securities of foreign corporations, the Fund will be eligible to elect to “pass through” to you foreign income taxes that it has paid. If this election is made, you will be required to include your share of those taxes in gross income as a distribution from the Fund and you generally will be allowed to claim a credit (or a deduction, if you itemize deductions) for these amounts on your federal U.S. income tax return, subject to certain limitations.
The Trust’s website has information about the premiums and discounts for each Fund. Premiums or discounts are the differences between the NAV and market price of a Fund on a given day, generally at the time NAV is calculated. A premium is the amount that a Fund is trading above the NAV. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the NAV.
• Futures Position Limit Risk — Limits on the amount of futures any one entity can hold may negatively impact the Fund’s ability to meet its investment objective if such limits are reached and exceptions to such limits are not granted. Currently the position limits for bitcoin futures contracts are much lower than they are for most other futures contracts.
• Early Close/Late Close/Trading Halt Risk — An exchange or market may close early, close late or issue trading halts on specific securities, or the ability to trade certain securities or financial instruments may be restricted, which may disrupt the Fund’s creation and redemption process, potentially affect the price at which the Fund’s shares trade in the secondary market, and/or result in the Fund being unable to trade certain securities or financial instruments. In these circumstances, the Fund may be unable to rebalance its portfolio, may be unable to accurately price its investments and/or may incur substantial trading losses. If trading in the Fund’s shares halt, shareholders may be temporarily unable to trade shares of the Fund at an advantageous time or price.
Bitcoin relies on blockchain technology. “Blockchain” is a decentralized database. Transactions are grouped in blocks and then chained together through cryptographic links. Blockchain is designed so that the chain can be added to, but not edited. This structure is called a “distributed ledger.” Transactions in the distributed ledger are permanently recorded and can never disappear, although theft and loss of bitcoin can occur. While bitcoin has grown in popularity, it’s still not nearly as widely accepted as traditional currency.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, four of the 10 biggest proposed initial coin offerings have used Switzerland as a base, where they are frequently registered as non-profit foundations. The Swiss regulatory agency FINMA stated that it would take a “balanced approach“ to ICO projects and would allow “legitimate innovators to navigate the regulatory landscape and so launch their projects in a way consistent with national laws protecting investors and the integrity of the financial system.” In response to numerous requests by industry representatives, a legislative ICO working group began to issue legal guidelines in 2018, which are intended to remove uncertainty from cryptocurrency offerings and to establish sustainable business practices.
Fundamental securities analysis is not used by ProShare Advisors in seeking to correlate a Matching Fund’s investment returns with its index. Rather, ProShare Advisors primarily uses a passive or mathematical approach to determine the investments a Matching Fund makes and techniques it employs. While ProShare Advisors attempts to minimize any “tracking error,” certain factors tend to cause a Matching Fund’s investment results to vary from a perfect correlation to its index, as applicable. See “Special Considerations” below for additional details.
As of May 2018, over 1,800 cryptocurrency specifications existed. Within a cryptocurrency system, the safety, integrity and balance of ledgers is maintained by a community of mutually distrustful parties referred to as miners: who use their computers to help validate and timestamp transactions, adding them to the ledger in accordance with a particular timestamping scheme.
“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.”
On September 15, 2015, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors finalized their proposed model regulatory framework for state regulation of participants in “virtual currency activities.” The Conference of State Bank Supervisors proposed framework is a non-binding model and would have to be independently adopted, in sum or in part, by state legislatures or regulators on a case-by-case basis. In July 2017, the Uniform Law Commission (the “ULC”), a private body of lawyers and legal academics from the several U.S. states, voted to finalize and approve a uniform model state law for the regulation of virtual currency businesses, including bitcoin (the “Uniform Virtual Currency Act”). Having been approved by the ULC, the Uniform Virtual Currency Act now goes to each of the U.S. states and territories for their consideration and would have to be independently adopted, in sum or in part, by state legislatures or regulators on a case-by-case basis.
The Bitcoin Network and bitcoin, as an asset, currently hold a “first-to-market” advantage, often referred to as a “network effect,” over other digital assets. This first-to-market advantage has resulted in the Bitcoin Network evolving into the most well developed network of any digital asset. The Bitcoin Network enjoys the largest user base of any digital asset and, more importantly, the largest combined mining power in use to secure the Bitcoin Blockchain. Having a large mining network enhances user confidence regarding the security of the Bitcoin Blockchain and long-term stability of the Bitcoin Network. Despite the marked network effect advantage of the Bitcoin Network over other digital assets, it is possible that real or perceived shortcomings in the Bitcoin Network, technological, regulatory or other developments could result in a decline in popularity and acceptance of bitcoin and the Bitcoin Network.
The tax rules are uncertain with respect to the treatment of income or gains arising in respect of commodity-linked exchange-traded notes (“ETNs”) and certain commodity-linked structured notes; also, the timing and character of income or gains arising from ETNs can be uncertain. An adverse determination or future guidance by the IRS (which determination or guidance could be retroactive) may affect a Fund’s ability to qualify for treatment as a regulated investment company and to avoid a Fund-level tax.
Market Spotlight – Bitcoin - A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure transactions, control creation, and verify transactions. The first such cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. In 2017, the exchanges launched a Bitcoin futures contract. The CBOE contract launched on Sunday, December 10, while the CME contract launched on Monday, December 18.
The Trust and the fund have obtained an exemptive order from the SEC allowing a registered investment company to invest in the Fund’s shares beyond the limits of Section 12(d)(1) subject to certain conditions, including that a registered investment company enters into a Participation Agreement with the Trust regarding the terms of the investment. Any investment company considering purchasing shares of the Fund in amounts that would cause it to exceed the restrictions of Section 12(d)(1) should contact the Trust.
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.
There are many groups on Facebook where you can find likeminded folks who will happily talk crypto all day but the problem is that 99% of these groups are filled with people who have only a very basic understanding of cryptocurrency and the knowledge available here is not particularly strong. I have recently left almost every single group on Facebook as, in my opinion, they are largely filled with FUD.
• Inverse Correlation Risk — Since a portion of the Fund’s assets are invested in short positions in bitcoin futures contracts, the Fund will likely decline in value when the price of bitcoin futures contracts goes up (unless such losses are offset by gains in the value of the Fund’s positions in other investments), a result that is the opposite from the results of taking long positions in bitcoin futures contracts.
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.
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.
The Fund is an actively managed exchange traded fund. The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing substantially all of its assets in a combination of (i) the equity securities of blockchain technology companies, (ii) bitcoin futures, options and swap contracts that provide exposure to the price movements of bitcoin (“Bitcoin Derivatives”) and (iii) bitcoin related securities, such as bitcoin linked exchange traded notes (“ETNs”), funds and trusts (“Bitcoin Securities”) (collectively, with Bitcoin Securities, “Bitcoin Investments”). The Fund targets a minimum of 30% exposure to Bitcoin Investments. The Fund’s other assets will be invested in the equity securities of blockchain technology companies — companies that the Fund’s investment advisor determines are well-positioned to benefit from blockchain technology. The securities of blockchain technology companies may be listed on U.S. or non-U.S. exchanges and must meet certain minimum capitalization and liquidity requirements. The Fund intends to concentrate its investment in blockchain technology companies and/or technology companies.
For the three most recent fiscal years, each Fund that was operational for the period indicated paid ProShare Advisors the amount set forth below pursuant to the Management Services Agreement. Because the New Fund was not operational at the end of the Trust’s last fiscal year, information on fees paid pursuant to the Management Services Agreement by the New Fund is not included in this SAI.
On 25 March 2014, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that bitcoin will be treated as property for tax purposes. This means bitcoin will be subject to capital gains tax. In a paper published by researchers from Oxford and Warwick, it was shown that bitcoin has some characteristics more like the precious metals market than traditional currencies, hence in agreement with the IRS decision even if based on different reasons.
• Small-and Mid-Cap Company Investment Risk — The Fund may invest in stocks of small-and mid-cap companies. The risk of equity investing may be particularly acute for securities of issuers with smaller market capitalizations. Small-and mid-cap company stocks may trade at greater spreads or lower trading volumes, and may be less liquid than the stocks of larger companies. Small-and mid-cap companies may have limited product lines or resources, may be dependent upon a particular market niche and may have greater fluctuations in price than the stocks of larger companies. Further, stocks of small-and mid-sized companies could be more difficult to liquidate during market downturns compared to larger, more widely traded companies. In addition, small-and mid-cap companies may lack the financial and personnel resources to handle economic or industry-wide setbacks and, as a result, such setbacks could have a greater effect on small-and mid-cap security prices.
The introduction of futures didn't lead to a wave of hedge-fund money shorting bitcoin. It led to retail and institutional money going long bitcoin. We talked last week about the spread between Cboe's bitcoin futures price and the actual price of bitcoin, which was wider than $1,000 for a while. The spread has tightened considerably -- as of 8:15 a.m. today, the CME futures traded at $18,585, Cboe futures at $18,670, and spot bitcoin at about $18,245, for a spread of about 2 percent -- but it still exists. Why would you pay more for a synthetic bitcoin in a month than you would for an actual bitcoin today? The answer, presumably, is that the synthetic bitcoin is more valuable to you: You want bitcoin exposure, but you'd prefer to get it through a standardized contract on a regulated exchange that settles in dollars.
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.