U.S.-listed bitcoin futures contracts may aid institutional investor participation and enable hedging while also potentially helping digital assets develop into an asset class of their own. Currently digital assets trade on platforms that lack proper execution mechanisms, governance, and standard financial industry practices. Futures contracts push trading volume towards regulated exchanges with proper governance, controls and state of the art execution mechanisms. Futures contracts also remove the arduous requirement for investors to custody “physical” bitcoin, which is a major obstacle. In some ways, bitcoin futures are an early attempt to integrate digital assets into the mainframe financial system. With such integration, regulators might also gain a greater understanding of and steadier grasp on digital assets. This may enable the creation of more explicit guidance and regulation around the space. While it is early innings for digital assets, U.S.-listed bitcoin futures may pave the way for a potentially safer, more reliable, and better governed digital asset space and regulated investment vehicles.
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The right of redemption may be suspended or the date of payment postponed with respect to any Fund (1) for any period during which the Exchange is closed (other than customary weekend and holiday closings); (2) for any period during which trading on the Exchange is suspended or restricted; (3) for any period during which an emergency exists as a result of which disposal of the shares of the Fund’s portfolio securities or determination of its NAV is not reasonably practicable; (4) in such other circumstance as is permitted by the SEC; or (5) for up to 14 calendar days for any of the Global Funds or Short or Ultra International ProShares Funds during an international local holiday, as described below in “Other Information”.
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.
Because only a few regulations implementing the straddle rules have been promulgated, the consequences of such transactions to the Funds are not entirely clear. The straddle rules may increase the amount of short-term capital gain realized by a Fund, which is taxed as ordinary income when distributed to shareholders. Because application of the straddle rules may affect the character of gains or losses, defer losses and/or accelerate the recognition of gains or losses from the affected straddle positions, the amount which must be distributed to shareholders as ordinary income or long-term capital gain may be increased or decreased substantially as compared to a Fund that did not engage in such transactions.
The Fund will periodically adjust its holdings in order to maintain inverse exposure to bitcoin futures contracts. As the price of bitcoin futures contracts declines, net assets of the Fund will generally increase resulting in inverse exposure that is less than the value of the Fund’s assets. Conversely, when the price of bitcoin futures contracts increases, net assets of the Fund will generally decrease resulting in inverse exposure that is more than the value of the Fund’s assets, and the Fund’s inverse exposure will be periodically adjusted to restore approximately equivalent inverse exposure.
Bitcoin’s adoption has been on a generally continuous climb since bitcoin first gained mass media attention in 2013. Businesses are starting to accept bitcoin as payment, either directly or, more commonly, through an intermediary service which converts bitcoin payments into local currency. The adoption of bitcoin as a means of payment, however, has been limited when compared with the increase in the price of bitcoin as determined by the Bitcoin Exchange Market, indicating that the majority of bitcoin’s use is for investment and speculative purposes. The continued adoption of bitcoin will require growth in its usage as a means of payment and in the Bitcoin Blockchain for various applications.
Ann then goes on BFE and she wants to short on bitcoin at market price. She sees that only the January 9 contract has any orders. She could put a limit order in the orderbook if she wanted. However, she sees Bob's bid in the orderbook and decides to fill it, and uses her 0.2btc as margin to collateralize this position. She has just opened a position worth 1 bitcoin that has 5x leverage, and so has Bob.
Creation Units of all Funds may, at the discretion of the Advisor, be sold for cash (the “Cash Purchase Amount”). Creation Units are sold at their NAV plus a Transaction Fee, as described below. The Advisor may also restrict purchases of Creation Units to be on a cash-only basis at any time and without prior notice, in all cases at the Advisor’s discretion.
Homero Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC's complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold "investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated" from mining.
To purchase or redeem through the Clearing Process, an Authorized Participant must be a member of NSCC that is eligible to use the Continuous Net Settlement system. For purchase orders placed through the Clearing Process, the Authorized Participant Agreement authorizes the Distributor to transmit through the Funds’ transfer agent (the “Transfer Agent”) to NSCC, on behalf of an Authorized Participant, such trade instructions as are necessary to effect the Authorized Participant’s purchase order. Pursuant to such trade instructions to NSCC, the Authorized Participant agrees to deliver the requisite Deposit Securities and the Balancing Amount to the Trust, together with the Transaction Fee and such additional information as may be required by the Distributor.
Upon entering into a futures contract, each Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents in the range of approximately 5% to 10% of the contract amount for equity index futures and in the range of approximately 1% to 3% of the contract amount for treasury futures (these amounts are subject to change by the exchange on which the contract is traded). This amount, known as “initial margin,” is in the nature of a performance bond or good faith deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract, assuming all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as “variation margin,” to and from the broker will be made daily as the price of the index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as “marking-to-market.” At any time prior to expiration of a futures contract, a Fund may elect to close its position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract.
The Funds may invest directly or indirectly in residual interests in real estate mortgage conduits (“REMICs”) (including by investing in residual interests in collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”) with respect to which an election to be treated as a REMIC is in effect) or taxable mortgage pools (“TMPs”). Under a Notice issued by the IRS in October 2006 and Treasury regulations that have yet to be issued but may apply retroactively, a portion of a Fund’s income (including income allocated to the Fund from a REIT or other pass-through entity) that is attributable to a residual interest in a REMIC or an equity interest in a TMP (referred to in the Code as an “excess inclusion”) will be subject to federal income tax in all events. This Notice also provides, and the regulations are expected to provide, that excess inclusion income of a RIC will be allocated to shareholders of the RIC in proportion to the dividends received by such shareholders, with the same consequences as if the shareholders held the related interest directly. As a result, Funds investing in such interests may not be a suitable investment for charitable remainder trusts (see Unrelated Business Taxable Income, below).
Commonly, investments subject to interest rate risk will decrease in value when interest rates rise and increase in value when interest rates decline. The value of securities with longer maturities may fluctuate more in response to interest rate changes than securities with shorter maturities. A wide variety of factors can cause interest rates to rise (e.g., central bank monetary policies, inflation rates, general economic conditions, etc.). This risk may be elevated under current economic conditions because interest rates are at historically low levels. Returns on investment in debt instruments may trail the returns on other investment options, including investments in equity securities.
(b) diversify its holdings so that, at the end of each quarter of a Fund’s taxable year (or by the end of the 30-day period following the close of such quarter), (i) at least 50% of the fair market value of the Fund’s assets is represented by cash and cash items (including receivables), U.S. government securities, the securities of other RICs and other securities, with such other securities limited, in respect of any one issuer, to a value not greater than 5% of the value of the Fund’s total assets and to an amount not greater than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, and (ii) not greater than 25% of the value of its total assets is invested, including through corporations in which the Fund owns a 20% or more voting stock interest, in (x) the securities (other than U.S. government securities and the securities of other RICs) of any one issuer or of two or more issuers that the Fund controls and that are engaged in the same, similar or related trades or businesses, or (y) the securities of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships (as defined below); and
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• 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.
So far, these derivatives market have only been a niche occupied by crypto enthusiasts. That is until one of the newcomers, Crypto Facilities, and an incumbent in the derivatives market have joined forces: Crypto Facilities and the CME Group. The CME Group (controlling, for example, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that has been around for more than a century) is a large-scale business that is officially regulated and audited by the US financial authorities. It settles its contracts in fiat money rather than cryptocurrency, thus enabling non-crypto experts to speculate on Bitcoin.