Like most long-awaited events, the approval of the first spot-based Bitcoin ETFs in the United States marked the local peak for BTC prices. The strong rally since mid-2023 is now taking a well-deserved breather. This consolidation after the heightened anticipation for the ETFs is a sign of an overheated market, already evident before the launch.
Naturally, some traders are taking profits. After all, the price of Bitcoin surged an impressive +156% throughout 2023. This once again secured Bitcoin's place among the year's best performing assets. In addition, redemptions from the newly converted Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into an ETF are putting pressure on the Bitcoin price.
Subscribe to our newsletter
The best articles of the week, directly delivered into your mailbox.
Bitcoin BTC/USD (daily) / Charts: TradingView
GBTC Becomes an ETF: The End of the Widowmaker
Crypto asset manager Grayscale's trusts are investment vehicles that allowed investors to easily make crypto investments without self-custody as early as 2013. This was extremely early for the industry. The SEC did not approve the first tradable futures Bitcoin ETF until 2021. Accordingly, Grayscale accumulated over $30 billion in assets through the trusts. However, as trusts, Grayscale's products are closed investment vehicles. Shares cannot be freely created or redeemed by purchasers. Only accredited investors have access to the primary market, which includes a six-month lock-up period before unlocking on the secondary market. Historically, this has led to significant price deviations of the trusts compared to the spot prices of the respective cryptocurrencies.
Various players have tried to take advantage of this quasi-arbitrage trading. However, what started as a premium in the high double-digit percentage range before 2020 turned into a deep discount to the Bitcoin price over the years. The flagship GBTC became a ticking time bomb. Various players who were financing the trade with borrowed money collapsed. First it was crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, followed by Celsius, BlockFi, Silvergate and indirectly the FTX exchange. Grayscale's "widowmaker" caused billions in financial losses.
The only salvation for holders of the Bitcoin Trust was the prospect of approval for a spot Bitcoin ETF. This would turn the closed-end fund into a freely tradable ETF. Traders with available capital jumped in at a discount of nearly 50%. For the past two weeks, GBTC holders have finally been able to exit the product with an annual management fee of 1.5%. To date, approximately $1.7 billion has flowed out of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. These redemptions are undoubtedly having an impact on the price of Bitcoin. Even though some of the outflows will likely end up in cheaper ETFs.
All information in this publication is provided for general information purposes only. The information provided in this publication does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as such. This publication does not constitute and is not intended as an offer, recommendation or solicitation to invest in any financial instrument, including cryptocurrencies and the like. The contents contained in the publication represent the personal opinions of the respective authors and are not suitable or intended as a basis for decision-making.
Investing in cryptocurrencies, is fundamentally associated with risk. The total loss of the invested capital cannot be excluded. Cryptocurrencies are very volatile and can therefore be exposed to extreme price fluctuations in a short period of time.