North America’s First Bitcoin ETF Gets Green Light in Canada

Purpose Investments Inc. said Canadian securities regulators have cleared the launch of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF, making it the first to gain regulatory approval in North America.

The fund is designed to provide investors with exposure to the world’s largest cryptocurrency by investing directly in physically settled Bitcoin, the company said in a statement. While this is set to be the first investment vehicle for Bitcoin that’s officially labeled an exchange-traded fund, Europe boasts several “physically backed” Bitcoin exchange-traded products that effectively function just like an ETF.

This isn’t the first time Canada has beat the U.S. in regulatory approval for ETFs. Canadians launched the first ETF ever and also released marijuana-related funds prior to their southern neighbors. Industry participants say this is a positive sign for firms hoping to offer their own ETFs on a U.S. exchange.

“Canada has a long history of approving new types of ETFs before the U.S. And the U.S. has a history of following. Thus, we think this is net net good news for Bitcoin hopes in the U.S.,” said Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst Eric Balchunas.

Current Bitcoin trusts in the U.S. often trade at massive premiums, yet investors pile in regardless, since buying investment trusts can be easier than purchasing the coins themselves. Proponents of ETFs argue such a structure would help keep prices in line with net asset values.

There are currently at least four active filings for a Bitcoin ETF in Canada yet to be approved, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The companies that have filed since the start of the year are Evolve Funds, Horizons ETFs, Accelerate Financial and Arxnovum Investments.

In the U.S., VanEck Associates Corp. and Bitwise Asset Management have pending ETF filings. Ongoing hurdles to U.S. approval include its infamous price swings whipsawing unsuspecting retail investors and allegations of industry manipulation.

“We are excited by this development for the entire industry, but more importantly for investors who would like regulated and transparent exposure to this new asset class,” said Matt Hougan, chief investment officer of Bitwise Asset Management. “We look forward to the day when the United States regulatory environment has evolved to a state where Bitcoin ETFs can be issued here as well.”

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