Cathie Wood charts course for ARK’s crypto future

CEO and founder of ARK Invest Cathie Wood announced plans on Monday to launch five cryptocurrency-focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in partnership with 21Shares, a leading provider of crypto ETPs in Europe.

The new ETFs will offer exposure to Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) futures, as well as equities of companies involved in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Wood believes these new products will appeal primarily to institutional investors, calling them “a dress rehearsal” for when U.S. regulators eventually approve a spot bitcoin ETF that directly holds the cryptocurrency.

ARK has an application for a spot Bitcoin ETF pending with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Wood says the SEC has been asking more substantive questions of late, rather than outright rejecting applications as in the past.

Wood believes the SEC’s main concern under Chairman Gary Gensler is the potential for manipulation in Bitcoin markets. She contends this is very unlikely due to the transparent and decentralized nature of blockchain technology.

Some speculate Gensler may have political motivations for denying spot Bitcoin ETFs, as stronger regulation of cryptocurrencies may help his case for appointment as Treasury Secretary in a future administration.

On the recent Bitcoin rally, Wood attributes part of it to anticipation of an ETF approval. However, she also cites strong network fundamentals, saying that “it seems like this is a bull market.”

As for ETH and other altcoins, Wood believes Ethereum’s smart contract functionality makes it a worthwhile bet alongside Bitcoin. She also mentioned Solana (SOL) as an emerging player in blockchain infrastructure and web3 applications. Still, Wood maintains that Bitcoin is the ultimate pure play on the cryptocurrency revolution.

The new futures-based ETFs represent a diversified way for investors to gain exposure to the crypto space. However, Wood believes Bitcoin itself will be the better long-term performer.

The ETFs are slated to begin trading in early 2022.

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