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How to buy ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO)

Own ProShares Bitcoin Strategy units in just a few minutes.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF, the first crypto-based fund approved for US markets, started trading Tuesday, Oct. 19 on the NYSE under the symbol BITO.

While it is not the first Bitcoin ETF globally, BITO's launch in the U.S. represents a major milestone in the acceptance of Bitcoin (BTC) as an investable asset.

US-based Bitcoin ETFs also open the door for more US investors to own Bitcoin. Many US brokerages do not offer access to cryptocurrency or to foreign exchanges where other crypto funds might trade, while access to US-traded ETFs is common.

The ProShares ETF is the first crypto-based fund approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission for trading in the US, after a decade of applications from ETF sponsors. Many more appear to be on the way. A second has already launched, a third is expected within days, and many more are awaiting approval or being planned.

Trading opened at $41.94, and shares traded in a range from $37.34 to $43.95 in its first few days on the market, slight underperforming Bitcoin. The target is to match Bitcoin's return.

Here's how bullish investors can get involved with this Bitcoin ETF.

How to invest in ProShares Bitcoin Strategy

  1. Compare online brokers. To invest in exchange traded funds (ETFs) you will need to sign up to an ETF broker. Our table below can help you choose.
  2. Open and fund your brokerage account. Complete an application with your personal and financial details. Fund your account with a bank transfer, PayPal or debit card.
  3. Search for the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy. Find the ETF by name or ticker symbol: BITO. Research it using the prospectus and other information at the sponsor's site to make sure you understand how it works and to confirm it's a solid investment based on your financial goals.
  4. Purchase now or later. Buy today with a market order or use a limit order to delay your purchase until the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy reaches your desired price.
  5. Decide on how many to buy. Weigh your budget against a diversified portfolio that can minimize risk through the market's ups and downs.
  6. Check in on your investment. Congratulations, you've invested in the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy.

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What we know about the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy

Launched by ETF issuer ProShares and headed by CEO Michael L Sapir, the fund is designed to be a simple way for investors to get exposure to the Bitcoin currency in the major US markets.

ETF trading is available at low or no cost through most US brokerages, while many don’t offer direct access to crypto or to international funds.

The fund doesn’t own bitcoin directly. Instead, fund managers trade futures contracts, which are derivatives traded in the futures market that basically bet on the future price of Bitcoin. The ETF’s goal is to replicate the return of Bitcoin, meaning that a 10% move in the price of Bitcoin would mean a 10% move in the price of the ETF.

There’s no guarantee of that, and the fund is too new to judge how close the correlation will be.

The fund charges an annual management fee of 0.95%, relatively high for an ETF. The widely held SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), for example, tracks the S&P 500 and charges 0.09%.

To check out other Bitcoin-related ETFs, check out our bitcoin ETF guide.

Bitcoin ETF or Bitcoin: Which is better for you?

Quick verdict

Bitcoin ETFs better for
  • Investors who want exposure to Bitcoin without owning the actual asset or setting up a separate account
  • Frequent traders looking to avoid upfront fees for buying and selling Bitcoin
  • Investors who'd rather pay an annual fee than trade fees
  • Investors who don't plan to trade outside US stock-market hours
  • Investors who see safety in regulatory oversight, since ETFs and futures markets are more regulated in the US than cryptocurrencies
Bitcoin better for
  • Investors looking for an investment in crypto itself
  • Investors who want to take full advantage of exposure to Bitcoin's price movements by owning it directly
  • Long term investors looking to avoid a large annual fee
  • Investors who plan to trade 24/7 or whenever there's a big price change

Are cryptocurrency ETFs a good investment?

Jeff Yew

Jeff Yew
Founder & CEO at Monochrome Asset Management

For everyday investors, accumulating physical Bitcoin comes with added hurdles of custody and operational risks.

"Bitcoin as a technology is battle-tested, but there is an inherent operator's risk when self-acquiring, holding and managing a bitcoin position even for the most experienced digital native, hence there's a market for those who prefer a safe pair of hands to manage their investment in exchange for a small management fee.

"Investing in a Bitcoin ETF offers investors the benefits of a safe yet low barrier to diversifying their portfolio into the asset class since it's a well understood financial product for most investors."

Who is the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy suited for?

Bitcoin futures ETFs are designed to suit investors looking to get exposure to Bitcoin without owning the asset itself.

The key is understanding the differences between the Bitcoin ETF and owning Bitcoin itself.

For stock investors whose broker doesn’t offer crypto, trading the ETF is the simpler choice. You can use your current account and keep your investments in the same place. Owning Bitcoin may mean opening a new account with a cryptocurrency exchange or a broker offering the asset.

By owning Bitcoin, you get 100% of any move up or down in the price of Bitcoin. With this ETF, you may not.

That’s because the current US Bitcoin ETFs are based on futures, which are derivative contracts that are basically bets on the future price of Bitcoin. The ETF managers trade futures contracts and seek to match the price performance of Bitcoin, moving 1% for every 1% Bitcoin moves. But the funds are too young to know how close that correlation will be..

ETFs also trade only during US market hours, while Bitcoin trades 24/7. So if a big move happens off market hours, you won’t be able to react immediately if you hold the ETF.

Fees are the other difference, and critical to any investment decision.

ETFs trade like stocks, with the same broker fee you’d pay for a stock trade. Online brokers like Robinhood and Sofi have made no-fee trading fairly common.

You’ll then pay an annual management fee that covers the cost of the managers trading futures for the ETF.

Trading costs for Bitcoin are more complicated. Robinhood offers no-fee trading, but with the caveat that Bitcoin will hold your assets. You can’t move your Bitcoin to another account or to a digital wallet, which is a device, program or website that allows you to hold your crypto directly.

Other brokers and exchanges charge a variety of fees, which can vary based on your account and market conditions. You may also pay a transaction fee as well as bank transfer fees for getting dollars into your account. Most basically, fees from Coinbase, one of the largest crypto dealers, look like this based on the amount you’re buying:

  • Less than or equal to $10: $0.99
  • Over $10 – $25: $1.49
  • Over $25 – $50: $1.99
  • Over $50 – $200: $2.99
  • Over $200: 0.5%
  • For crypto to crypto purchase, the fee is a flat $2. And fees may be lower for those trading much larger amounts.
In short, Bitcoin ETFs are better suited for traders looking for lower upfront fees who aren’t trading large amounts, and Bitcoin itself the better choice for long-term investors looking to avoid an annual fee. While the ETF will likely cost less in initial trade fees, holding it two or three years can easily make the ETF more expensive.

ProShares Bitcoin Strategy share price volatility

Over the last 12 months, ProShares Bitcoin Strategy's ETF's units have ranged in value from as little as $9.3621 up to $26.5244. A popular way to gauge a stock's volatility is its "beta".

Beta is a measure of volatility in relation to the market. The market (NYSE ARCA average) beta is 1, while ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF's is 0. This would suggest that the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy is less volatile than average (for this exchange).

Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisors, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.

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Finder is not an advisor or brokerage service. Information on this page is for educational purposes only and not a recommendation to invest with any one company, trade specific stocks or fund specific investments. All editorial opinions are our own.

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Ron Prichard is managing editor of news production and operations at Pitchbook and a former news editor at Finder, specializing in investments. Ron wrote, edited and built tools at Microsoft News and MSN Money for more than 20 years. He holds a BA in journalism from California State University, Long Beach. See full bio

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