Betting against Bitcoin may get easier with futures ETF filing

The firm behind the first U.S. Bitcoin futures ETF wants to launch a product that will bet against the world’s largest cryptocurrency.

The firm behind the first U.S. Bitcoin futures ETF wants to launch a product that will bet against the world’s largest cryptocurrency.

The ProShares Short Bitcoin Strategy exchange-traded fund would track the inverse performance of an index of Bitcoin futures, according to Tuesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ProShares introduced the Bitcoin Strategy ETF (ticker BITO) in October, which ranked among the most popular ETF debuts on record.

If approved by regulators, the proposed fund would be the first U.S. ETF betting against the performance of Bitcoin futures. Rival issuer Direxion filed for a similar strategy in October following BITO’s launch, but pulled the application at the request of the SEC. 

This time around it’s likely that the SEC is more comfortable with the possibility of an inverse futures ETF, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

“ProShares nailed the SEC’s openness for a futures ETF and so there’s no reason to doubt them here, especially because BITO trading has been fine, it clearly works,” said Eric Balchunas, ETF analyst at BI. “This could mean the SEC is ready to take the next baby step.”

The filing lands with Bitcoin stuck in a rut. The coin is currently trading near $45,000, up from January’s lows near $33,000 but down significantly from November’s highs of almost $69,000. Short interest as a percentage of shares outstanding on BITO currently stands near 5.5%, down from a record 8% last month, data from IHS Markit Ltd. show.

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