This episode features Matt Hougan, CIO of Bitwise, and Hunter Horsley, CEO and co-founder of Bitwise, discussing the current state of Bitcoin ETFs, the challenges they face, and the potential for future approval. They compare the early days of ETFs to the current situation with Bitcoin ETFs, highlighting the skepticism and resistance faced by both industries. The hosts also discuss the reasons why the SEC has been denying Bitcoin ETF applications, with a focus on market manipulation concerns. They speculate about the possibility of coordinated actions by crypto whales and discuss the challenges of regulating an international market.
Bitcoin ETFs: A Journey from Skepticism to Acceptance
- Comparison with Early ETFs: Matt Hougan draws parallels between the early days of ETFs and the current situation with Bitcoin ETFs, highlighting the skepticism and resistance faced by both industries. He believes that the crypto industry is going through a similar journey and that skepticism will eventually turn into acceptance.
- SEC’s Concerns: The hosts discuss the reasons why the SEC has been denying Bitcoin ETF applications, with a focus on market manipulation concerns. They explain that the market has evolved and become more institutionalized, making surveillance and regulation easier.
- Market Manipulation: The hosts mention the recent fake news incident and the liquidation of long and short positions, speculating about the possibility of coordinated actions by crypto whales. They also discuss the challenges of regulating an international market compared to a more controlled environment.
Transformative Impact of a Spot Bitcoin ETF
- Comparison with Gold ETFs: The hosts compare the potential impact of a Bitcoin ETF to the first gold ETF in 2004, which lifted the maturation of the gold market. They believe that the introduction of a spot Bitcoin ETF can have a transformative impact on the market, similar to what happened with gold ETFs.
- Attracting Institutional Investors: The introduction of a spot Bitcoin ETF can attract institutional investors and increase market demand. Many financial advisors are waiting for the approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF before making significant investments in crypto.
- Significance for the Cryptocurrency Market: The podcast discusses the potential approval of a Bitcoin ETF and its significance for the cryptocurrency market. The hosts highlight the three buckets of wealth in America: self-directed retail investors, financial advisors, and institutional capital. Crypto has primarily been built on self-directed retail investors, but an ETF would allow the other two buckets to enter the market.
Challenges and Benefits of ETFs in the Crypto Space
- Risks and Benefits: The discussion revolves around the risks and benefits of ETFs in the crypto space. ETFs have existed in crypto in various markets successfully, providing safety and regulation for investors. ETFs offer peace of mind and security with multiple layers of protection, including qualified custodians, administrators, auditors, and issuers.
- Progression of ETFs: The progression of ETFs in the crypto space may start with Bitcoin, followed by Ethereum, and then expand to include other assets. In the future, ETFs may offer exposure to multiple assets, including diversified index products.
- Rebalancing an Index: The speaker discusses the idea of constantly rebalancing an index of the top 10 coins in the crypto market to capture the potential growth and changes in the ecosystem. They mention the difficulty of outperforming the S&P and the need for a product that allows them to express their long-term innovation in the crypto space.
Role of Coinbase in the Crypto Space
- Importance of Coinbase: The speakers discuss the importance of Coinbase in the crypto space, noting that it is the most important company in crypto. They mention that Coinbase has a lack of natural buyers due to the divide between crypto and non-crypto people. Despite this, they believe that value will eventually win out and Coinbase will see growth.
- Communication Problem in Crypto: The speakers compare the communication problem in crypto to the developments in AI, emphasizing that people want to know how to use it and its impact on the world. They commend Coinbase for recognizing the audience and effectively telling the story of crypto.
- Real-World Use Cases: The speakers mention that Coinbase is emphasizing consumer non-speculative use cases, such as restaurant rewards programs, which they find exciting. They note that crypto has been weak in providing useful applications compared to AI, and highlight the need to showcase real-world use cases.
- Bullish: The hosts express a bullish sentiment towards the future of Bitcoin ETFs, despite the current challenges and skepticism. They believe that the crypto industry is going through a similar journey as the early days of ETFs and that skepticism will eventually turn into acceptance. They also express bullishness on the future of Coinbase, praising its execution and potential for exponential growth.
- Neutral: While the hosts express optimism about the future of Bitcoin ETFs and Coinbase, they also acknowledge the challenges and risks involved. They discuss the reasons why the SEC has been denying Bitcoin ETF applications, the possibility of market manipulation, and the challenges of regulating an international market. They also raise skepticism regarding the security and competency of ETF operators in managing keys, infrastructure, and custodianship.