A Guide to Bitcoin ETPs

By Inyoung Hwang · July 03, 2024 · 9 minute read

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A Guide to Bitcoin ETPs

Spot Bitcoin ETPs are a type of investment vehicle that seeks to track the spot price of Bitcoin. ETPs, or exchange-traded products, are a broader basket of investments that include both exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded notes (ETNs), and are listed on an exchange, and can be purchased or sold much like a stock.

But what’s critical to know is that generally, ETFs are regulated by the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”). While the most common type of ETPs are structured as ETFs, not all are, and spot Bitcoin ETPs are a specific type of ETP that are not registered under the 1940 Act. As such, these ETPs are not subjected to the 1940 Act’s rules, and investors holding shares of Bitcoin ETPs may not or do not have the same protections as those that are regulated by the 1940 Act, which may mean these investments have relatively higher associated risks.

What Is a Bitcoin ETP?

As noted, Bitcoin ETPs are a type of exchange-traded fund or product that allow investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without directly owning it. These seek to track the price of Bitcoin. That means when the price of Bitcoin in U.S. dollars goes up, a spot Bitcoin ETP, trading on the stock exchange should also see its share values go up, and vice versa.

But it’s critical to note that Bitcoin ETPs have a much narrower focus than most other exchange-traded funds, which started out with the aim of giving investors broad exposure to the stock market. But, like all investments, they have various risks associated with them. In fact, it’s possible that an investor could lose the entirety of their investment.

An Introduction to Bitcoin ETPs

Bitcoin ETPs are exchange-traded products that, effectively, allow investors to gain exposure to the crypto markets as easily as they would buy or sell a stock, as discussed. Again, a Bitcoin ETP seeks to track the price or value of Bitcoin, and so the value of a Bitcoin ETP share is designed to rise or fall in relation to the change in value of the underlying cryptocurrency.

It also means that investors don’t necessarily need to directly own Bitcoin to gain exposure to the market in their portfolio — they can invest in a security, the ETP, that seeks to track it, instead. Note, too, that all ETPs have related fees and expenses, which vary.

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What Are Spot Bitcoin ETPs?

Spot Bitcoin ETPs are investment vehicles that trade at “spot” value. “Spot” value, in this case, refers to the price of the underlying asset at any given time. So, if a buyer and seller come together to make a trade, they would do so at the spot price. There are spot markets for all sorts of commodities.

Where Can Investors Buy Spot Bitcoin ETP Shares?

Investors can buy spot Bitcoin ETP shares via numerous exchanges and platforms. While previously, investors interested in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies would need to trade on platforms that supported cryptocurrencies, since Bitcoin ETPs are exchange-traded vehicles, investors are likely to find them available on many other platforms — that includes SoFi, which allows investors to buy spot Bitcoin ETP shares as well.

Are There Other Spot Crypto ETPs?

Spot Bitcoin ETPs seek to track the price of a fund’s Bitcoin holdings, and other spot crypto ETPs, if and when they are approved and hit exchanges, will do the same.

Spot Bitcoin ETPs were first approved for trading by regulators in early 2024. There are ETPs that seek to track Bitcoin-exposed or Bitcoin-adjacent companies, too, as well as Bitcoin futures. Spot Ethereum ETPs could be similar vehicles to to spot Bitcoin ETPs, in that they would seek to track the price of Ethereum, and allow investors to gain exposure to Ethereum in their portfolios without owning it directly.

What Are Bitcoin Futures ETPs?

Bitcoin futures ETPs are another type of ETP that give investors exposure to the price movements of Bitcoin via futures contracts. Futures are a type of contract that dictates the terms of a trade at a future date, and typically have underlying assets such as precious metals or other commodities — including crypto.

Accordingly, Bitcoin futures ETPs are crypto futures ETPs that specifically seek to track Bitcoin futures contracts. Regulators approved Bitcoin futures contracts in 2021, but again, investors should know that they don’t seek to track the price or value of the underlying asset exactly — which differentiates them from spot Bitcoin ETPs.

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Are There US-listed Spot Bitcoin ETPs?

There are U.S.-listed spot Bitcoin ETPs. When the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) first granted their approval in January 2024, it opened the door to several Bitcoin ETPs hitting the market. As a result, investors were able to start buying and selling them via the stock market.

The SEC’s approval led to new spot Bitcoin ETPs being listed on a few different exchanges. Here’s a list of the first 11 spot Bitcoin ETPs that gained approval from the SEC:

•   Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC)

•   Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (BITB)

•   Hashdex Bitcoin ETF (DEFI)

•   ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF (ARKB)

•   Invesco Galaxy Bitcoin ETF (BTCO)

•   VanEck Bitcoin Trust (HODL)

•   WisdomTree Bitcoin Fund (BTCW)

•   Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC)

•   Franklin Bitcoin ETF (EZBC)

•   iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT)

•   Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund (BRRR)

Note, too, that it’s anticipated that additional spot cryptocurrency ETPs will become available.

How Are Bitcoin ETPs Regulated?

Bitcoin ETPs are regulated by the SEC, which sets out guidance in terms of legality. Regulation in the crypto space is and has been murky — it’s been largely unregulated for the entirety of the crypto space’s existence. But the advent of crypto ETPs is likely to change that to some degree, as spot Bitcoin ETPs’ underlying asset is and can be Bitcoin itself, rather than Bitcoin derivatives.

Remember, too, that Bitcoin ETPs are not regulated under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as discussed. That differentiates them from most ETFs on the market.

That’s another important distinction investors should note: Spot and futures Bitcoin ETPs may be regulated under slightly different terms, as futures are derivatives. Investors should pay attention to the space and to any SEC guidance released regarding crypto regulation, as it may impact the value of their holdings in crypto ETPs, too.

Pros & Cons of Bitcoin ETPs

Like all investments, there are pros and cons of ETFs and ETPs — including Bitcoin ETPs.

Benefits of Bitcoin ETPs

Proponents of Bitcoin ETPs appreciate that they can give investors exposure to the complicated and volatile cryptocurrency market, without the need to personally hold actual crypto.

Convenience and Ease

Buying a spot Bitcoin ETP requires little tech know-how beyond knowing how to use a computer, open a brokerage account, and place a buy order.

ETPs provide a way for investors to indirectly add exposure to certain assets — like Bitcoin, in this case — to their portfolio. That may result in a return on investment, or a possible loss of principal. On the other hand, holding actual Bitcoin may require a somewhat advanced level of technical expertise.

Secure Storage Options

Some cryptocurrency exchanges might be trustworthy, but some users have also had a controversial history of being hacked, stolen from, or defrauded. Even reliable exchanges open investors up to risk.

Securely storing cryptocurrencies — for example, storing the private keys to a Bitcoin wallet — is most often done by using either a paper wallet that has the keys written in the form of a QR code and a long string of random characters, or by using an external piece of hardware called a hardware wallet.

Risks of Bitcoin ETPs

First and foremost, investors should be aware that it’s possible that they could lose the entirety of their investment when investing in Bitcoin ETPs. There are, of course, other risks to consider as well, including volatility, costs, and the unpredictable and still largely-unregulated nature of the crypto market.


The volatility comes from the occasional wild swings experienced in the price of Bitcoin and Bitcoin futures against most other currencies. This could scare investors that have a lower risk tolerance, enticing them to panic and sell.


One of the risks that comes from holding an ETP of any kind involves its expense ratio. This number refers to the amount of money a fund’s management charges in exchange for providing the opportunity for investors to invest in their fund.

If a fund comes with an expense ratio of 2%, for example, the fund management would take $2 out of a $100 investment each year. This figure is usually calculated after profits have been factored in, cutting into investors’ gains. In other words, some Bitcoin ETPs could be relatively expensive for investors to hold, but it’ll depend on the specific fund.

There can be other various types of fees that may apply to an investment in ETPs as well. While the specific fees will vary from ETP to ETP, investors will likely encounter one or a combination of commissions, account maintenance fees, exchange fees, and wrap fees (a type of management fee). Again, investors will want to look at an ETP’s prospectus or related documents to get a better sense of the costs associated with a specific ETP.

Fraud and Market Manipulation

Regulators have cited fraud and market manipulation as reasons for why they were cautious about approving a spot market Bitcoin ETP. It’s unclear how the SEC’s approval of spot Bitcoin ETPs may affect fraud and market manipulation in the crypto space, but it’s something investors should be aware of.

The Takeaway

Spot Bitcoin ETPs were approved for trading by the SEC in early 2024, and as a result, it’s likely that many more crypto ETPs will also hit markets and exchanges in the future — though nothing is guaranteed. Investors may use them to gain exposure to the crypto markets. For investors curious about the cryptocurrency market but not yet ready to invest in crypto itself, a Bitcoin ETP may represent another option. It may be best to speak with a financial professional before investing, too.

If you’re ready to bring crypto into your portfolio, you can invest in a Bitcoin ETP with SoFi. Along with many other types of investments, SoFi’s platform offers investors access to the crypto space through spot Bitcoin ETPs.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

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What are the options for Bitcoin ETPs?

There are Bitcoin futures ETPs and spot Bitcoin ETPs listed in the U.S., which investors can buy. Given the SEC’s approval of Bitcoin ETPs for trading in early 2024, there may soon be additional spot crypto ETPs available to investors in the future.

Are there US-listed Bitcoin ETPs?

As of July 2024, there are U.S.-listed spot Bitcoin ETPs after the SEC approved an initial batch of them, and it’s likely there will be more in the subsequent months and years.

Where can Bitcoin ETP shares be purchased?

Crypto ETPs can be purchased and traded on the stock market, alongside other ETPs.

Photo credit: iStock/JuSun

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