Physically backed bitcoin, ether ETPs set to launch in the UK

WisdomTree has gotten FCA approval to list bitcoin and ether ETPs on the London Stock Exchange, the company said Wednesday


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As optimism emanates from the US around possible spot ether ETF approval, physically backed crypto products are set to launch in the UK. 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has approved a bitcoin and an ether ETP proposed by fund group WisdomTree, the asset manager said in a Wednesday statement.

It is “among the first issuers” to gain such approval, WisdomTree noted, and plans to list the two products on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on May 28. 

Though the FCA declined to comment, its website confirms the WisdomTree prospectus approvals.

Unlike in the US — where the Securities and Exchange Commission has historically left industry watchers wondering about its stance on crypto ETFs — this development in the UK does not come as a surprise. 

After all, the FCA said in March that it would not object to exchanges listing such exchange-traded notes ETNs — with the caveat that the products only be available to professional investors. 

This was viewed as a milestone statement for the UK regulator, which had previously banned the sale, marketing and distribution of crypto ETNs to retail consumers in January 2021.

Read more: After US bitcoin ETFs, the UK fights for retail to have the same freedom

Soon after the FCA’s statement, the London Stock Exchange shared its intent to begin accepting proposals for bitcoin- and ether-related ETNs.

These debt securities would have to be physically backed bitcoin and ether ETNs with their assets “wholly or principally held in cold storage,” LSE noted at the time.

Indeed, the WisdomTree products are “100% physically backed” and available only to professional investors, the company said.

Alexis Marinof, WisdomTree’s head of Europe, said in a statement that these products will offer “a more convenient access point” for UK-based investors who have historically allocated to crypto ETPs through overseas exchanges. 

WisdomTree — managing roughly $106 billion in assets, as of April 30 — has crypto ETPs currently listed on the Deutsche Börse Xetra, the Swiss Stock Exchange SIX, as well as on Euronext exchanges in Paris and Amsterdam. 

“FCA approval in this respect could result in greater institutional adoption of the asset class, as many professional investors have been unable to gain exposure to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies due to regulatory limitations and uncertainty,” Marinof added. “We would expect FCA approval of our crypto ETPs’ prospectus to remove those barriers to entry.”

These expected launches come after the firm launched a spot bitcoin ETF in the US in January.

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