Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss were supposed to launch the first-ever publicly traded Bitcoin ETF.
They are now likely to be lapped by Barry Silbert’s SecondMarket.
The firm, whose Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT) is already the largest regulated private Bitcoin investment fund in the world, has begun taking steps to open their own publicly traded, over-the-counter Bitcoin ETF, with a projected launch date of Q4 2014.
Because the BIT already complies with FINRA statutes, it will be able to file to open the exchange on a much more accelerated timeline than the Winklevosses, Silbert told BI Thursday.
“The plan all along was to move the [Bitcoin Investment Trust] into the public market in a similar way to the Winklevosses,” he said. “But we’ve learned the route they’re taking takes many years to get approved, and there’s a high level of uncertainty when it will get done. [SecondMarket’s process] does not require SEC approval.”
The Winklevosses did not respond to a request for comment.
Once online, anyone with a mainstream trading platform, like e-Trade or TD Ameritrade, will be able to buy shares in the fund, which is billed as a safe, regulated means for getting exposure to Bitcoin. Existing BIT customers who’ve had an account for at least 12 months will also automatically qualify.
The long-term goal, Silbert says, is to get the fund on NASDAQ or NYSE, though he says that will likely not come for a while.
Silbert is one of the most successful Bitcoin evangelist, and admits he’s playing a long game. He does not expect an immediate rush into the shares, given Bitcoin’s ongoing dramatic price fluctuations. But he says ETFs are key to tamping down those swings.
“I think we’re going to see volatility for the foreseeable future, given the fragmented nature of exchange markets and the low levels of liquidity,” he said. “Large purchaser sale orders can still move the market. I do think vehicles like this will help to reduce it, it will be bringing in larger sums of money, which will ultimately reduce supply of Bitcoin subject to volatility. [SecondMarket’s] vehicle will not in itself help, but it will help as more vehicles do hit the market.”
Bitcoin prices were at $US592 this morning according to Coindesk.