Is a Spot Bitcoin ETF really a reason to be bullish BTC?

The recent surge in Bitcoin's price, reaching over $44,000 for the first time since April 2022 hinges around the development of a spot Bitcoin ETF.

What's happening?

  • BlackRock has advanced its plans for a spot Bitcoin ETF, securing $100,000 in seed capital. This development signals confidence in its approval by the SEC.
  • The anticipation of a spot Bitcoin ETF has positively impacted crypto markets, and has ignited the biggest rally in Bitcoin's price since 2021. ‘Hodlers’ are predicting a further bullish effect on Bitcoin prices upon the ETF's approval.
  • A spot Bitcoin ETF could significantly broaden Bitcoin's investor base, including those outside traditional crypto circles. This increased accessibility is expected to enhance Bitcoin adoption.

Bitcoin is on a roll

Bitcoin's recent price rally, surpassing $44,000 for the first time since April 2022 (as of Dec 6), has been majorly influenced by the developments surrounding a spot Bitcoin ETF. 

The market's reaction is buoyed by the anticipation of the Securities and Exchange Commission approving a spot Bitcoin fund. The market's response reflects a strong expectation of a bullish impact on Bitcoin prices following the approval of such ETFs.

The BTC price has now recovered over half of the losses since hitting a record high in 2021, suggesting the longer term bearish trend has ended. Near-term the price completed a classic bullish chart pattern known as a bull pennant that looks like a triangle-shaped consolidation in the middle of two strong moves up in the price.


Bitcoin price chart

Screenshot_4-2Source: TradingView / FlowBank

The Bullish Case for a Spot Bitcoin ETF

The introduction of a spot Bitcoin ETF presents a bullish case for Bitcoin, primarily due to its potential to make Bitcoin more accessible to a diverse range of investors. 

BlackRock's role has been crucial in this scenario, with the world’s biggest asset manager securing substantial seed capital for an anticipated spot BTC ETF. This development has been a major catalyst in reviving bullish sentiment in the market, indicating improved investor sentiment and renewed confidence in Bitcoin's potential.

The spot ETF could appeal to those not typically involved in direct cryptocurrency investments or futures trading. By enabling easier access through familiar investment vehicles like ETFs, it opens the door for wider adoption and participation in the cryptocurrency market. This increased accessibility could potentially lead to Bitcoin being included in various investment portfolios, including retirement funds, subject to specific fund manager rules.

Challenges and Skepticism

While the outlook for a spot Bitcoin ETF is generally optimistic, there are notable challenges that could temper expectations.

Historical precedents in the cryptocurrency market suggest that the launch of pioneering financial products often aligned with market peaks, which could be a concern for the potential impact of a spot ETF on prices. Notable examples include Bitcoin futures (the 2018 top) and Ethereum futures and the first US-based Bitcoin ETF (the 2021 top).

There is a divergence in sentiment between professional investors and retail crypto enthusiasts. Professional investors tend to be more skeptical and cautious towards crypto, which could lead to more conservative or bearish positions, potentially offsetting some of the bullish momentum from retail investors.

Influence of the US Dollar

The relationship between the value of the US dollar and the BTC/USD exchange rate is a critical factor in the cryptocurrency market. A devaluation of the dollar often leads to increased interest in alternative investments like Bitcoin. 

Expectations that the Federal Reserve is done hiking interest rates has seen the dollar fall in value in the past couple of months, coinciding with the rally in Bitcoin and a record high for the price of gold.

Divergent Views on Market Volatility

Some argue that the introduction of such an ETF would lead to a reduction in Bitcoin's volatility. This is due to the expected expansion and diversification of the investor base, along with increased market liquidity. Conversely, other analysts caution that certain structures within the ETF, such as cash creation, could inadvertently lead to increased volatility.

FYI: The Existing Bitcoin ETFs

  • ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) ($904 million AUM)

  • VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF (XBTF) ($45 million AUM)

  • Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF) ($25 million AUM)

  • Simplify Bitcoin Strategy PLUS Inc ETF (MAXI) ($22 million AUM)

  • Global X Blockchain & Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITS) ($11 million AUM)

In Summary

The introduction of a spot Bitcoin ETF, particularly by influential firms like BlackRock, marks a pivotal moment in the cryptocurrency market. It signals a shift towards greater institutional involvement and a broader investor base. While the general outlook is bullish, the true impact of these developments will be shaped by market reactions, regulatory developments, and broader economic conditions.