The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Barry Silbert’s Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT) is slated to become the first publicly-traded Bitcoin fund, with approval and assignment of a ticker symbol by the financial sector’s main self-regulated body paving the way for trading on an electronic platform run by OTC Markets Group.
First launched in 2013 as a private fund for accredited investors with annual incomes of more than $200,000 or assets greater than $1 million, BIT faces off against offerings by twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who have proposed an exchange-traded Bitcoin trust and a US-regulated Bitcoin exchange.
While the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust goes through a lengthy US Securities and Exchange Commission process to register a formal exchange-traded fund, BIT has taken the back door to public listing, said the Wall Street Journal. By exploiting a rule that allows private fund holders to sell their shares publicly following a 12-month lock-up period and completing a less strenuous approval process with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, some of those shares should soon be available to investors of any income or wealth bracket. BIT is sponsored by Grayscale Investments, a unit of Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, which he launched last year to hold the digital currency interests of his broker-dealer SecondMarket Inc.
The Wall Street Journal said the launch of a publicly-traded Bitcoin investment vehicle is considered an important milestone in Bitcoin’s bid for mainstream acceptance. Proponents of the digital currency hope that regulated instruments will foster a wider investment base as investors will no longer have to own Bitcoin directly, which can expose them to hacking risks. Advocates hope that more liquid trading will help smooth Bitcoin’s volatile price and make the cryptocurrency more attractive for online payments and value transfers.
Silbert said the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority granted BIT’s request for a permanent ticker symbol – GBTC – and that is “expected to be effective shortly,” reported the Wall Street Journal. Silbert said Grayscale is also separately “working through the approval process to enable the BIT’s shares to be quoted under the Alternative Reporting Standards on OTCQX, the top marketplace operated by OTC Markets Group.”
Images: File photos