Volatility Shares not giving up on ETH futures ETF effort

Grayscale Investments, Bitwise and others ditched plans to launch ether futures ETFs in May after the SEC asked them to do so, sources told Blockworks


Kanchanara/Unsplash modified by Blockworks


Fresh off a milestone launch, Volatility Shares is looking to offer an ETF that would hold ether futures contracts — just a few months after other fund issuers halted similar efforts.  

The company’s proposed Ether Strategy ETF, detailed in a July 28 SEC filing, would invest in cash-settled ether futures contracts traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). It would not invest directly in ether (ETH). 

The first bitcoin futures ETFs launched in October 2021 after getting the SEC’s green light, and the issuer earlier this month launched the first leveraged bitcoin futures ETF in the US.

Grayscale Investments revealed plans in May to bring to market an ETF focused on ether futures. Bitwise Asset Management, Direxion and Roundhill Investments quickly followed suit.

Grayscale days later amended a filing indicating it no longer was looking to launch the product. Others also withdrew their applications for ether futures ETFs. 

The SEC had asked the fund groups to halt these efforts, two sources directly familiar with the matter had told Blockworks. The regulator did not return a request for comment at the time.

Read more: SEC not ready to approve ether futures ETFs — but why?

Industry participants had labeled concerns around ether futures liquidity levels, as well as a lack of clarity on whether ether is a security or a commodity, as potential reasons. 

The new filing comes after Volatility Shares launched its 2x Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITX) — the country’s first leveraged bitcoin futures ETF — last month. That fund seeks investment results that correspond to two times the daily excess return of the S&P CME Bitcoin Futures Daily Roll Index. 

“Interesting given SEC made some recent Ether filers withdrawal,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Eric Balchunas said of the ETH futures ETF proposal in a Monday tweet. “But.. VolShares just got (against the odds) a 2x Bitcoin Futures ETF out so maybe they [are] feeling confident [the] time is right.”

A Volatility Shares spokesperson did not immediately comment. 

The SEC is currently considering a wave of filings for a spot bitcoin ETF from fund giants BlackRock, Fidelity and others. 

Neena Mishra, director of ETF research at Zacks Investment Research, told Blockworks last month that the approval of a spot bitcoin ETF would mean the SEC’s main concerns regarding fraud and manipulation have been addressed.

“I don’t think there would be any need for the agency to experiment with a futures-based ether ETF first,” she said at the time.

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