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New front opens on the bitcoin ETF war: VanEck debuts VBTC, Global X cuts fees

6 minute read

The “first-to-market” battle continues with the launch of the first spot bitcoin ETF on the ASX, and a coincidental reduction of fees by a market competitor listed on Cboe.

The VanEck Bitcoin ETF (ASX: VBTC) debuted on the ASX on Thursday, marking the exchange’s inaugural bitcoin ETF.

The ASX said on the occasion that it is really pleased to admit its first bitcoin ETF amid increasing customer demand for access to cryptocurrency assets.

The general manager of investment products and strategy at the ASX, Andrew Campion, said in a statement that the exchange had been working on bringing a crypto asset ETF to market for a number of years. This included establishing a new category of permissible underlying assets for ETFs in August 2022, which includes bitcoin and Ether.


“While it has been possible to trade bitcoin via crypto exchanges, trading units with exposure to bitcoin via an ETF on an exchange like ASX means you’re able to buy and sell those units through a traditional brokerage account, simplifying the process and opening the opportunity to more Australians,” Campion said.

“As the demand for digital assets continues to grow, we are proud to offer a regulated avenue for Australian investors to access the crypto asset market.”

InvestorDaily previously covered the competition for Australia’s first bitcoin ETF, with both Global X and now Monochrome asserting their claim to the title.

While Global X and Monochrome are listed on Cboe, VanEck has become the first to issue a bitcoin ETF on the ASX.

However, despite being first on the ASX, VanEck’s product isn’t the earliest overall – Global X’s ETF entered the market in 2022. Nevertheless, Monochrome asserts that its product is the sole genuine spot bitcoin ETF available.

Its CEO, Jeff Yew, explained to InvestorDaily on Thursday that “we have three types of bitcoin ETFs” in Australia.

Type A, he said, is the Monochrome bitcoin ETF (IBTC), which holds bitcoin under a retail crypto asset AFSL authorisation. Type B, Yew elaborated, is Global X’s EBTC, which holds shares in an unlisted wholesale fund that buys bitcoin, and type C is VanEck’s VBTC, which holds shares in a US domiciled master fund that holds bitcoin.

“Monochrome has always been clear about what our products achieve for our investors. We proudly stand as the first and only bitcoin ETF in Australia licensed under a retail crypto asset AFSL authorisation,” Yew said.

The other point of contention between the fund managers is their choice of exchange, with Yew asserting that Cboe is currently the only exchange in Australia approved to list a direct holding bitcoin ETF product under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) crypto asset licensing rules.

InvestorDaily has reached out to Cboe for comment.

VanEck’s CEO told InvestorDaily on Thursday that the firm chose the ASX because it is “Australia’s primary market destination”.

“The crypto framework for admission is far more stringent than its peers,” Arian Neiron said.

“A couple of years back, there were a number of crypto currency ETFs, all on Cboe, that were forced to delist, both charging nil management fees, over the course of a honeymoon period.”

In his opinion, “pursuing a listing on the ASX is the right decision, notwithstanding the additional requirements to get VBTC cleared for approval”.

“In bringing the first cryptocurrency ETF to market via the ASX, we had to meet ASX’s rigorous admission process, including meeting the high standards of ASX’s crypto framework and ASIC’s sign off in ensuring adherence to ASIC’s Information Sheets 225 and 230,” Neiron said.

Global X announces fee reduction

Also on Thursday, Global X issued its own news, declaring the reduction of fees for both its spot bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs.

The fund manager said it is reducing the annual management fees of its Global X 21Shares Bitcoin ETF (Cboe: EBTC) and Global X 21Shares Ethereum ETF (Cboe: EETH), effective 1 July 2024, after it confirmed last month that EBTC had surpassed a record high of $118 million in assets under management.

Global X added in the statement that it “pioneered the introduction of spot cryptocurrency ETFs in Australia”.

Chief executive Evan Metcalf added: “As the first product provider to introduce both spot bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs in Australia, Global X is committed to the long-term opportunity that bitcoin and other crypto assets provide to investors as part of a diversified portfolio.”

Alongside reiterating the fund manager’s first-to-market title, Metcalf also welcomed competition on Thursday.

“Global X welcomes new players within the ETF market and is dedicated to ensuring our products are competitively priced,” Metcalf said, adding that EETH remains the only spot Ethereum ETF available in Australia.

“As part of this commitment, we are pleased to offer a competitive management fee to Australian investors, providing an attractive opportunity for those looking to include cryptocurrency in their portfolios,” he added.

Also addressing the rising local interest for the digital asset market and growing competition, Neiron advised investors to undertake their due diligence.

“Considerations include the fund manager’s track record managing assets and their pedigree in digital assets,” he said.

“VanEck is a global asset manager with our digital assets expertise ranging from ETFs, private funds and indices. We have been investing both on a principal and investment capability level since 2017.

“There needs to be a modicum of thought pertaining to issuers’ representations relating to investor protections. Importantly, any representations relating to additional protections need to be substantiated in the public domain.”

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja's career in journalism spans well over a decade across finance, business and politics. Now an experienced editor and reporter across all elements of the financial services sector, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies.