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March 1, 2024
PI Global Investments

For Spot BTC ETF Costs, Bitwise’s Fee Is Lowest as Grayscale Charges the Most

Two days before the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) is expected to approve one or more U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), all potential issuers have disclosed an important – if not the most important ­– detail about their product: the fee. And they differ greatly.

Some 13 proposed ETFs are awaiting SEC approval, or rejection, and the fee they charge is one way they can differentiate themselves from the others. Lower fees, charged as a percentage of the fund’s assets, leave more for investors.

Crypto native fund manager Bitwise is charging the least – 0.24% after a 6-month period of no fees – though some of its rivals aren’t far off. Ark and 21Shares plan to charge 0.25%, VanEck also lists at 0.25% and Franklin at 0.29%.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, set its fee at 0.30%, lower than some experts had expected given its size and reputation could have allowed it to charge more and still strongly compete in popularity.

“Life just got a lot tougher for everyone else,” Bloomberg Intelligence’s ETF senior analyst Eric Balchunas wrote on X, referring to BlackRock’s pricing decision.

Fidelity set its fee at 0.39% and Invesco and Galaxy at 0.59%, while Valkyrie and Hashdex chose 0.80% and 0.90%, respectively. Like Bitwise, most of the issuers plan to offer reduced fees for a fixed period after their introduction.

One stand out is Grayscale, which wants to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into an ETF. It plans to charge at the high end of range, 1.5%. While this is lower than the trust’s management fee of 2% and there is a potential to waive the fee, it might not be enough to compete with the other applicants, according to some observers.

“Hard to imagine advisors picking a 1.5% ETF” Balchunas said on X. Grayscale’s fee, “simply isn’t going to cut it,” posted Nate Geraci, another ETF expert. For context, the average fee on ETFs in 2022 was 0.37% according to research from Morningstar.

Grayscale, however, has heft in another category that matters greatly in the ETF world: size. It already has more than $27 billion of assets under management, which gives it a huge advantage compared to the others, which have zero.

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