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What Canadian investors need to know about Bitcoin ETFs



Bitcoin took center stage recently as regulatory changes in the U.S. made investing in the cryptocurrency more accessible, prompting a surge of interest in Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). This development, marking a significant step towards legitimizing cryptocurrency, has led Canadian investors to ponder the implications and opportunities presented by these ETFs.


Understanding Bitcoin ETFs


A Bitcoin ETF is essentially a way for investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without directly owning the cryptocurrency. It operates similarly to traditional ETFs, allowing investors to trade shares on stock exchanges, such as gold or oil ETFs. The key distinction lies in accessibility – while cryptocurrency demands a crypto wallet, Bitcoin ETFs are tradable by anyone with a standard stock account through stock trading platforms.


Greg Taylor, CIO of Purpose Investments, explains, “It's a category that's grown very quickly for many investors who prefer the convenience and liquidity of being able to invest directly through an ETF.”


Canadian Investment Options


Canada has been at the forefront of the cryptocurrency wave, offering various Bitcoin ETF options since 2021. Currently, there are approximately 20 Canadian ETFs available, each with distinct fees and attractions. Major players in the Canadian market include Purpose Investments, CI, and 3iQ, providing investors with a range of choices.


Moreover, Canadians can access the newly approved U.S.-based Bitcoin ETFs if their stock trading accounts allow for U.S.-based stock transactions. In addition to Bitcoin, Canadians can invest in Ethereum ETFs, which have gained approval in Canada but are still pending approval in the U.S.


Impact of U.S. Regulatory Changes on Canadian Investors


While the recent U.S. regulatory changes do not directly impact Canadian investors, they may influence the competitive landscape. Alex Tapscott, Managing Director at Ninepoint Partners, suggests that U.S. providers' lower fees and increased liquidity could compel Canadian platforms to reduce their fees to remain competitive.


Fidelity Investments, one of the U.S. ETF recipients, has already responded by lowering fees for its Fidelity Advantage Bitcoin ETF account in Canada. The U.S. market's entry introduces more competition, potentially leading to a gradual shift in investor preferences.


Considerations for Canadian Investors


Both Greg Taylor and Alex Tapscott emphasize the importance of understanding the inherent volatility of cryptocurrency investments. While the potential for gains exists, so does the risk of substantial losses. Taylor advises investors to view cryptocurrency as a complementary rather than a core portfolio asset, offering diversification benefits.


Investors are encouraged to become educated about cryptocurrency before entering the market, making informed decisions based on an understanding of the risks and potential rewards. Tapscott stresses the need for awareness regarding the volatility of crypto assets, emphasizing that investments in this space should be approached with caution.


Managing Risks


Volatility remains the primary risk associated with cryptocurrency investments, and investors are urged to assess their risk tolerance before diving in. Taylor emphasizes that cryptocurrency should not constitute the core of a portfolio but rather serve as a supplementary element.


Tapscott also highlights the potential risks associated with security compromises or hacks on companies providing these assets. Although remote, this risk underscores the importance of choosing reputable ETF providers and staying informed about security measures.


In conclusion, the recent developments in the U.S. regulatory landscape have opened up new possibilities for Canadian investors interested in Bitcoin ETFs. However, a cautious and informed approach is crucial, considering the volatility and potential risks associated with the cryptocurrency market. As the landscape evolves, staying well-informed will be key for investors navigating the exciting yet unpredictable world of cryptocurrency.


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