What Is a Bitcoin Futures ETF?

What Is a Bitcoin Futures ETF?

4 Min.

Bitcoin futures ETFs are exchange-traded funds that attempt to replicate Bitcoin's price changes. To achieve this, the ETFs employ futures contracts. Fund managers buy these contracts and combine them into a fund. These funds became popular because the SEC prohibited building ETFs that directly hold Bitcoin. These ETFs, like Bitcoin's worth itself, are highly volatile.


Bitcoin futures ETFs represent consolidated bitcoin assets traded as ETFs on conventional exchanges through brokerages. These ETFs aim to afford retail and other investors cryptocurrency exposure without requiring direct ownership.

Exploring Bitcoin Futures ETFs

Bitcoin futures ETFs, distinctive exchange-traded funds centered on Bitcoin's valuation, operate on conventional exchanges, departing from the usual cryptocurrency exchange setting. Presently, the foundational assets within Bitcoin futures ETFs comprise Bitcoin futures contracts, actively traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). These contracts, standardized agreements binding two parties to exchange a predetermined asset quantity at a specific price on a designated day, form the basis of the ETF structure.

Creating these ETFs involves acquiring futures contracts from the CME Group, subsequently assembling them into a comprehensive fund. Investors gain access to this fund through exchange transactions. Notably, the futures contracts integrated into the fund undergo diligent active management.

Evolution of Bitcoin Futures ETFs

The origin of Bitcoin futures ETFs traces back to the recognition of escalating Bitcoin prices and its increasing popularity among investors. This trend prompted a realization of trading opportunities within the Bitcoin market.

As Bitcoin's value surged to significant heights, direct investment in Bitcoin became less feasible for retail and average investors. In response to the growing demand for Bitcoin access, brokerages developed Bitcoin exchange-traded funds. Notably, the Winklevoss brothers submitted applications to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2013, marking the inception of this financial instrument.

In a conventional stock-tracking ETF, the fund acquires stocks, which become its holdings. These holdings, purchased by the company, are then offered as fractionalized shares on exchanges that operate nearly 24/7.

While many enthusiasts envision a Bitcoin ETF comprising directly purchased bitcoins, the Security and Exchange Commission consistently rejected such proposals. However, a recent court directive has compelled the SEC to reassess these proposals, leading some experts to anticipate the approval of the first authentic Bitcoin ETF in the near future. The inaugural Bitcoin-linked ETF, the Proshares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), gained SEC approval in October 2021 and was subsequently listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Objectives of Bitcoin Futures ETFs

The objectives of Bitcoin futures ETFs, as many investors desire, are structured to facilitate broader Bitcoin investment without the complexities and expenses associated with direct ownership. These ETFs eliminate security protocols and financial hurdles while offering a familiar investment avenue.

Security Measures

Despite not physically possessing cryptocurrency, Bitcoin ownership entails safeguarding security keys, susceptible to theft if stored on exchanges. Various methods, such as offline storage, aim to enhance security, but none are foolproof. Conversely, an ETF mitigates these concerns by not necessitating direct cryptocurrency ownership or key management; investors hold shares in the fund, which itself does not possess any cryptocurrency.

Cost Implications

The soaring prices of Bitcoin pose a substantial barrier for average investors. Despite a record high of nearly $69,000, Bitcoin's value fluctuated, currently hovering around $41,500. The prohibitive cost of a single Bitcoin restricts retail investors. An ETF addresses this challenge by providing exposure to BTC within budgetary constraints, aligning with risk tolerance and investment objectives.

Enhanced Understanding of ETFs

Notably, ETFs enjoy significantly broader comprehension within the investment realm compared to cryptocurrencies. Opting for an ETF simplifies digital currency involvement, allowing you to concentrate on a familiar asset without delving into the complexities of blockchain, mining, decentralized exchanges, distributed ledgers, key storage, and cryptocurrencies.

Investing in Bitcoin Futures ETFs

To invest in Bitcoin futures ETFs, you can acquire them through your broker or advisor. Various Bitcoin futures ETFs are available on exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange ARCA and Nasdaq, including:

  1. Proshares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO)
  2. Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF)
  3. VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF (XBTF)
  4. Global X Blockchain & Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITS)
  5. ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF (BITI) allows investors to short the cryptocurrency.

The SEC approved the Teucrium Bitcoin Futures Fund (BCFU) on April 6, 2022, expanding the roster of authorized Bitcoin futures ETFs.

It's essential to recognize that these ETFs aren't exclusively composed of Bitcoin futures. Primarily, they invest in traditional securities and hold Bitcoin futures contracts when aligned with the fund's strategy. For instance, the Proshares Bitcoin Strategy Fund selectively holds Bitcoin futures contracts only during profitable periods. Alternatively, it may include securities from Bitcoin-related companies and money market instruments and borrow through reverse purchase agreements.


Bitcoin futures ETFs amalgamate Bitcoin futures contracts, serving as an avenue for investors who lack the inclination or resources to invest directly in cryptocurrency. This offers a means to access the volatile yet potentially profitable nature of these assets, with the ability to procure them on recognized exchanges.

Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)
Bitcoin Futures ETF