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Inside the Race to Build a Better Bitcoin ETF

The appeal of cryptocurrencies to exchange-traded fund industry veterans is obvious. The nuance, the feverish buzz, and the controversy over the assets themselves echo the early beginnings of exchange-traded products. So it should surprise no one that John Hyland, who was on the team that launched the first crude oil ETF, the first natural gas ETF, and the first copper ETF, joined Bitwise Asset Management as its new global head of ETFs.

Hyland joins two other ETF whisperers—Matt Hougan, former CEO of Inside ETFs, and Teddy Fusaro, who helped build Direxion and IndexIQ—at the firm. In a press release Hyland said: “I feel like I’m joining the crypto ETF ‘Dream Team’ at Bitwise.”

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Meanwhile, bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and litecoin are climbing Monday. Bitcoin seems to be heading towards $9,000 again, which crypto experts said could happen when we interviewed back in March. Meanwhile Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) is up more than 3% so far Monday.

Of course, crypto tends to do well during crypto conference Consensus and it is in full swing this week at the Hilton in New York with some 3,000 attendees.

Barron’s spoke with Hyland in a telephone interview to get the 411 on crypto ETFs and whether they are on the way. Hyland actually kicked the tires of the possibility of a bitcoin ETF back in September 2013 when the Winklevoss twins filed for their bitcoin ETF back then, but he had three concerns: 1) there was no ecosystem—no market makers, no exchanges, no viable custodians; 2) bitcoin made up almost the entire market; and 3) regulators weren’t ready to entertain the notion. “My concerns were correct,” joked Hyland. “Just ask the Winklevoss Twins how much they spent on lawyers in the past few years.”

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Still, regulators remain a hurdle. Hyland doesn’t think the SEC will move quickly, but he highlights three reasons that suggest that crypto ETFs could be here as soon as…

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