First crypto ETFs launch in Australia

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The five-year race to launch the first spot cryptocurrency exchange traded funds in the Asia-Pacific region has finished on Thursday in a dead heat.

Sydney-based ETF Securities’ spot bitcoin and ether ETFs, built in conjunction with Switzerland’s 21Shares, started trading this morning on the Cboe Australia exchange. Fellow Sydneysiders Cosmos Asset Management’s bitcoin feeder ETF also launched today on the same exchange.

The listings mark the latest stage in the globalisation of exchange traded products investing in “physical” cryptocurrency, which have hitherto only been available in Canada, Brazil and a swath of European countries. US regulators have only permitted futures-based crypto ETFs so far, while the UK has not even done that.

The Australian launches represent the culmination of a five-year battle, with ETF Securities having first approached regulators with the idea of launching a crypto ETF in 2017.

The lengthy gestation period comes to an end just as digital currencies have fallen out of favour, however, with the price of bitcoin falling below $30,000 for the first time since July this week, cementing a 50 per cent slide from November’s highs.

Nevertheless an upbeat Kanish Chugh, head of distribution at ETF Securities, said: “Australian investor interest in cryptocurrencies has not waned in recent months even as we have seen underperformance. And with bitcoin’s recent sell off as well, it may present an opportunity for investors who have been looking for attractive entry points into this new asset class”.

ETFS and Cosmos will be hoping to secure “first-mover advantage” in the market, with New York-based VanEck expected to launch a rival product on the ASX, Australia’s primary exchange, in the coming weeks, and Canada’s 3iQ Digital Asset Management to debut another ETF on the Cboe…

Read more at www.ft.com

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