Since its launch, there has been speculation surrounding the performance of the Bitcoin futures Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) BITO and similar futures-based ETFs. These concerns stem from the costs associated with the process of rolling over futures contracts. This process involves selling expiring futures contracts and purchasing new ones. Typically, longer-dated futures contracts are more expensive than those closer to expiry, which creates a condition known as contango. It is important to note that contango tends to become more pronounced during bull runs in the market. The steeper the contango, the higher the costs associated with the process of rolling over futures contracts, leading to what is commonly referred to as contango bleed.
The concept of contango bleed refers to the negative impact this cost has on the performance of futures-based ETFs such as BITO. As the contango increases, the expenses associated with rolling over futures contracts also rise. This can result in a significant drag on the performance of the ETF, causing it to underperform bitcoin itself.
However, it is worth noting that contango bleed is not a universal issue impacting all ETFs. Some futures-based ETFs are structured differently, allowing them to mitigate the effects of contango bleed to a certain extent. These ETFs employ strategies such as utilizing multiple futures contracts with varying expiration dates to spread the cost over time and potentially reduce the impact of contango.
Despite the concerns surrounding contango bleed, there are potential benefits to be gained from futures-based ETFs. These ETFs offer investors exposure to bitcoin without the need to directly hold and store the underlying asset. They also provide the ability to trade bitcoin on regulated exchanges, making them more accessible to a broader range of traders and investors.
As the market for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies continues to evolve, it is expected that new and innovative approaches to providing exposure to these assets will emerge. This includes the development of alternative ETF structures that aim to address the challenges associated with contango bleed and improve the performance of futures-based ETFs.
In conclusion, observers have raised concerns regarding the potential underperformance of futures-based ETFs like BITO due to the costs associated with rolling over futures contracts. The condition of contango, where longer-dated futures contracts trade at a premium to those closer to expiry, can lead to higher expenses and contango bleed. However, certain ETFs employ strategies to mitigate this issue and offer investors exposure to bitcoin. As the market evolves, new approaches may emerge to address the challenges and improve the performance of futures-based ETFs in the future.