Last week the most anticipated/hyped/controversial ETF filing of the last 10 years -- the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust -- moved a step closer to becoming reality, announcing it had chosen to list on Nasdaq. Though it's still hard to imagine that a bitcoin exchange-traded fund will be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, given its multitude of unique risks, it's made it this far and can't be laughed off.
That won't stop us from trying.
Do bitcoins belong in an investor-friendly ETF wrapper? In fairness, my colleague Matt Miller of Bloomberg TV made a good point, noting that "You can (already) blow your head off with an ETF anytime you want! You can triple up leverage!" The SEC has approved about 250 leveraged and inverse ETFs that arguably have more volatility and potential for investor misuse worse than a bitcoin ETF. (For more on the topic, see Grandma Gets to Play Hedge Fund with New Credit Derivatives ETFs.)
If the Winklevoss twins get that far, they'll need to pick a ticker. Matt suggests the Winklevoss Treasury Fund, arguing that the ETF "will really just serve to fill their coffers." And that ticker's available.
My advice for Team Winklevoss: Don't pick WNKL or VOSS. Look, they named their bitcoin index WINKDEX. No objection to corny -- corny ETF tickers can be great. There's MOO for the Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF, ROOF for the IndexIQ U.S. Real Estate Small Cap ETF and GDAY (and CROC) for the ProShares Ultra (and UltraShort) Australian Dollar ETF.
But all these speak to the investment focus of the ETF, not the issuer. Even Bill Gross used BOND for the Pimco Total Return Bond ETF. He probably could have gotten away with calling it BILL. If the twins want to express the spirit of bitcoin in the ticker, BIT, COIN, CRYP or MATH would do. Unfortunately, all are taken, so we're going to have to think outside the Voss here.
The ticker could hint at bitcoin's appeal to libertarians and others distrustful of the U.S. government and banks, with SCAT or GWAY. Or, given all that weird brainpower behind the creation and virtual mining of the digital currency, BRNY would work, at the risk of alienating the Brooklynites who are inevitably cooking up their own ETF. You could also go ironic and call it SILK, for that bitcoin-friendly Amazon of illegal drugs, the online market Silk Road, or GOX, after the exchange that shut down after losing 850,000 bitcoins valued at about $500 million.
And in the brothers' heart of hearts, there's always FUFB. Looks available.
More stories by Eric Balchunas:
- Assets Pour Into a Curious and Controversial Investment
- Choosing 'All of the Above' in Your Income ETF
- Did Al Gore Invent ETFs, Too?
- Your New Financial Adviser: Radiohead
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