(Bloomberg) -- Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment Management and digital-asset firm 21Shares just became the first major applicant in the US spot Bitcoin ETF race to list a fee on their planned offering.
The Ark 21Shares Bitcoin ETF would carry a management fee of 80 basis points, according to an updated filing Monday. That means if someone invests $100, they would be charged 80 cents. The application for the ETF, which will trade under the ticker ARKB, had previously listed 70 basis points in a placeholder capacity.
With Monday’s amendment, Ark and 21Shares have fired the opening volley in what industry experts predict will be an instantaneous race-to-the-bottom on fees. Asset-management titans including BlackRock Inc., Invesco Ltd. and Fidelity Investments, known for their low-cost lineups, have also filed for ETFs that would directly invest in the cryptocurrency — a structure that US regulators have yet to approve — but none have included management fees in their applications.
“If I’m being honest, I thought they’d be a little lower than this, closer to 50 basis points,” said Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst James Seyffart. “Also the fact that Ark and 21Shares have updated their filing from a 70 basis point fee to 80 basis points might mean that running these products is going to cost even more than some sponsors and issuers thought it would.”
The updated filing from Ark and 21Shares is another step on a rocky road to a much awaited decision from the Securities and Exchange Commission on whether such products will launch in the US. The regulator again deferred on two more filings last week, following a wave of recent delays.
While higher than an average of 0.54% across US-listed ETFs, 80 basis points undercuts the 95 basis point fee charged by the $1.4 billion ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (ticker BITO), the largest Bitcoin futures-based fund. And it’s well below that of the $23 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which charges 2%.
The “inherent complexity” of a US-listed spot product lead to the 80 basis point fee, said 21Shares’ co-founder and president Ophelia Snyder. While traditional ETFs have “packaged and bundled” services — from custody, accounting and administration, for example — that’s not the case in crypto products, she said.
“You’re actually bringing in different providers for almost every portion of the product and that does increase the operating cost,” Snyder said on Bloomberg Television’s ETF IQ. “We think it’s a reasonable price and where we actually can sustain those markets long-term.”
(Updates with comments from 21Shares’ Ophelia Snyder.)
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