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!
Last night, Cboe XBTSM Bitcoin Futures commenced trading on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The launch was smooth, although our website experienced some issues due to an overwhelming number of hits looking for the trading data. Now that the futures are up and running, it may be time for a brief explanation of how an owner of bitcoins may use futures to hedge their position.
Important agents interacting with those prices are operating in one of three roles: individual speculator, market maker, or arbitrageur. A key role is market maker—a firm that has agreed to simultaneously act as both a buyer and seller for a specific security. When companies sign up for this role they agree to keep the bid/ask prices relatively close to each other—for example even if they aren’t keen on selling Bitcoins at the moment they can’t just set the ask price to an outrageous level. The agreed-upon maximum bid/ask ranges might be tied to market conditions (e.g., wider when deemed a “fast market”) and might allow time-outs but in general, the market maker agrees to act as a buffer between supply and demand.
The Custodian is responsible for safeguarding the Funds’ cash and securities, receiving and delivering securities, collecting the Funds’ interest and dividends, and performing certain administrative duties, all as directed by authorized persons. The Custodian is also responsible for the appointment and oversight of any sub-custodian banks and for providing reports regarding such sub-custodian banks and clearing agencies.
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.
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.
This can serve two purposes; firstly, CFDs are a regulated financial product which means the brokers who offer them should be licensed by a regulatory authority. The brokers we review are all regulated by reputable financial regulatory bodies, offering varying degrees of protection for your money – from ensuring it is held in a segregated bank account to participation in compensation schemes should the broker become insolvent. There are, of course, criminal CFD brokers operating outside the law so you should do your homework before depositing!
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.
!! WARNING !!! Note that on CryptoFacilities each contract is denominated by 1 BTC. So if you bought a fraction of BTC you can NOT perform a perfect hedge of the value. If you round the BTC you bought with start capital down, you will have slight overexposure LONG with the left-over BTC. If you round up and short an extra contract, you will have slight overexposure SHORT.