Europe’s first spot bitcoin ETF is going live

The Jacobi bitcoin ETF is overseen by Guernsey’s financial authority, and Fidelity Digital Assets manages its custodial responsibilities

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Jacobi CEO Martin Bednall | Jacobi Asset Management

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Europe’s inaugural spot bitcoin ETF is going live on Euronext Amsterdam.

Jacobi Asset Management launched the Jacobi FT Wilshire Bitcoin ETF, a green-friendly digital asset fund. It aligns with the EU’s sustainable finance guidelines, highlighting its focus on positive environmental and social contributions.

Jacobi initially hoped its bitcoin ETF would launch in July 2022, meaning it’s been over a year since the originally planned debut.

The ETF, trading under the ticker BCOIN, is overseen by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC). Fidelity Digital Assets handles the ETF’s custodial duties, Flow Traders acts as market makers, and both Jane Street and DRW serve as authorized participants.

The fund secured an initial capital investment to kick off operations on Aug. 3, Jacobi’s CEO Martin Bednall told Blockworks.

The asset manager has added a verifiable Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) to the ETF, developed in collaboration with digital asset platform Zumo. 

Bednall said the fund employs external data to measure the energy usage linked to bitcoin (BTC) in the ETF. Jacobi then buys and retires corresponding Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) – a recognized tool for buying green energy.

Proof of these RECs is digitally logged on a blockchain, allowing ETF investors to verify the eco-friendly assertions.

The fund’s reference is the FT Wilshire Bitcoin Blended Price Index, which calculates a real-time average bitcoin price using data from vetted exchanges.

A spot bitcoin ETF directly holds bitcoin, letting investors tap into its price without directly buying or handling the cryptocurrency. A futures-based bitcoin ETF focuses on the futures market, which comes with its own set of challenges and risks.

Though this is the first spot bitcoin ETF in Europe, there are a series of crypto exchange-traded notes (ETNs) available on the continent — offerings that fall under the broader exchange-traded product (ETP) label.  

Bednall argued during an interview with Blockworks in July 2022 that ETFs are superior to the ETNs currently on the European market. 

While ETNs are debt instruments typically collateralized by the underlying exposure, such as bitcoin, he noted at the time, Jacobi’s ETF holds bitcoin directly.

While US regulators have approved futures-based bitcoin ETFs, they have thus far rejected numerous spot bitcoin ETF proposals, voicing concerns about potential market manipulation and fraud due to insufficient trading surveillance.

“It is exciting to see Europe moving ahead of the US in opening up Bitcoin investing for institutional investors who want safe, secure access to the benefits of digital assets using familiar and regulated structures like our ETF,” Bednall said in a statement.

Updated August 15, 2023 at 10:01 am ET


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