Funds and ETFs

ProShares files for bitcoin ETF, and one to bet against it

Key Points
  • ProShares, which is the 10th largest ETF company, according to, filed Wednesday with the SEC for two bitcoin ETFs.
  • The ETFs will track bitcoin futures contracts traded on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, the filing said.
  • However, those futures contracts aren't available yet and VanEck withdrew its application for a similar bitcoin ETF for that reason.

One of the largest sellers of exchange-traded funds has filed for two bitcoin ETFs.

ProShares, which has about $29 billion in assets under management, filed Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a ProShares Bitcoin ETF and ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF.

The two ETFs plan to track bitcoin futures contracts traded on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange and will trade on NYSE Arca, according to the filing. However, those futures products aren't available yet.

In early August, the Chicago Board Options Exchange said it plans to offer bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter or early next year, pending review by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

CBOE confirmed with CNBC Thursday that is still the case.

The absence of the CBOE's bitcoin futures product has proved a stumbling block for another major ETF company, VanEck, in its attempt to create a similar bitcoin futures ETF. VanEck, which ranks 9th in the ETF industry, according to, filed a letter Wednesday with the SEC to withdraw its application for a bitcoin ETF.

According to the letter, SEC staff told VanEck Vectors ETF Trust on a September 20 call that the commission's policy is to not review a registration statement for a fund whose underlying instruments are not yet available.

The SEC staff then requested VanEck withdraw its August 11 application for the bitcoin ETF "until such time as the underlying instruments in which the Fund intends to primarily invest (i.e., bitcoin futures contracts) become available for investment," the letter said.

The SEC declined to comment to CNBC.

ProShares had no comment and referred CNBC to the public filing.

ProShares, which ranks 10th in the ETF industry, according to, is known for selling specialized funds that bet on both the long and short side of the trade.

Bitcoin surged this year from below $1,000 to briefly above $5,000 as investors bet the digital currency will gain greater acceptance globally as a store of value, attracting the attention of many on Wall Street.

The digital currency traded above $4,100 Thursday, still up more than four times in price for the year, according to CoinDesk.

However, the digital currency can be quite volatile. Bitcoin dropped more than 30 percent in March after the SEC rejected the Winklevoss brothers' application for a bitcoin ETF, and SolidX Partners' application for a bitcoin exchange-traded product.

The SEC said in April it is reviewing its rejection of the Winklevoss brothers' application, and bitcoin has since more than recovered from that plunge.