Bitcoin ETF war could see many issuers never ‘break even’ — Analysts

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The cutthroat battle to become the top United States spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) issuer could see many of the listed ETFs today eventually shut their down due to lack of profit.

According to analysts, the ETF fee war may have shut out smaller issuers from joining the race. However, a silver lining is that investors end up as the “biggest winners” due to falling fees.

“Most of the current ETFs launched will never even break even as costs will only work if they get to billions of assets under management, which they won’t,” Hector McNeil, the co-CEO and founder of white-label ETF provider HANetf, told Cointelegraph.

The ten approved Bitcoin ETFs have pulled in over $10 billion in assets under management since launch, but the bulk is held by BlackRock and Fidelity — respectively having around $4 billion and $3.5 billion.

“Four or five will get to breakeven. I even think some that have launched will probably close,” McNeil added. He suspected issuers possibly waiting to launch their own Bitcoin fund will scrap plans to launch.

“I think it’s a race to the bottom and believe there are too many people fighting over too small a pile.”

In late January, Global X pulled its bid for a Bitcoin ETF without explanation, while other ETF bidders Pando, 7RCC and Hashdex have stayed silent on their plans while the ten Bitcoin ETFs have increasingly lowered their fees — even before approval — to attract investors.

In late January, Invesco and Galaxy dropped their ETF fee from 0.39% to 0.25%, aligning it with BlackRock, Fidelity, Valkyrie and VanEck, despite the fund already offering zero fees for the first six months or until it hits $5 billion in assets.

Morningstar Research’s passive strategies research director Bryan Armour told Cointelegraph the “fee wars” likely pushed out new Bitcoin ETF issuers as it’s “tough to be profitable quickly with low fees and a late start.”

“New issuers would likely need to bring their own assets or rely on their distribution channels to grow at this point,” he added.

Bloomberg ETF Analyst Henry Jim said the smaller issuers “face an uphill battle in entering this turf war of giants.”

“If they match fees, they won’t have enough revenue to survive, and if they don’t lower fees, they won’t be able to gather enough critical mass assets to survive.”

Jim said new entrants may need an investor or “a backer with deep pockets” lined up to help keep them afloat while they work to distribute the ETF.

Related: ‘ETF multiplier effect’ to spark BTC frenzy, Swan Bitcoin CEO predicts

McNeil said those late to the party “may as well forget it unless they have something interesting or different to launch,” adding they’d be better off looking to bid in the “next raft” of offerings such as leveraged, covered call or Ether (ETH) ETFs.

While ETF issuers squeeze one another on fees, McNeil, Jim and Armour all agreed the ETF buyers and investors are the “biggest winners.”

Jim added the market makers are also on the winning side as investors will “pay less to access a relatively difficult-to-access market, and market makers revel in the liquidity in the Bitcoin markets as well as the ETF shares.”

Armour said that “issuers with the most substantial distribution channels that can scale quickly” will also win out in the fee wars, highlighting firms like BlackRock and Fidelity — currently the two largest issuers by assets.

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