After repeatedly trying, and failing, to get a bitcoin ETF that tracks the spot price of bitcoin approved in the US, Fidelity, the world's fourth-largest asset manager, has instead launched similar products in Canada and Europe. And on Tuesday, the fund-management giant launched its first European spot bitcoin ETP on the Deutsche Börse Xetra in Frankfurt, with further plans to launch on the SIX Exchange in Zurich in the coming weeks.
The new fund is being made available to Fidelity International's professional and institutional clients in Europe. Fidelity Digital Assets will act as the product's custodian, while Fidelity International has enlisted Brown Brothers Harriman to act as the ETPs administer and transfer agent.
It will trade under the ticker FBTC, and the ETP will charge a fee of 0.75%, which makes it Europe's cheapest bitcoin ETF, according to ETF Stream.
Fidelity International is an independent investment firm that was launched back in 1969 as the international subsidiary of Boston-based Fidelity, the financial services giant that manages over $4 trillion in assets. The firm is now based in London, and has client assets of $812.8 billion.
As stories about scammers stealing bitcoins and crypto from intermediaries like Coinbase proliferate, Fidelity has argued that custody feature of a physical bitcoin ETF is increasingly appealing to clients. This is what Fidelity International's Toby Sims told the FT back in December.
"Bitcoin is now taking up a mantle previously reserved for alternative assets, particularly gold. Bitcoin’s supply is finite, which means it can retain its value even as central banks print infinitely more money. It’s also easy to transact — not as easy as established currencies, but easier than gold. In times of uncertainty, that’s a plus."
"This is where a bitcoin ETF starts to make some sense. There’s a market out there which can see the appeal of bitcoin but is basically scared of it. Some investors don’t want to wade into a loosely regulated online exchange — they want a nice and easy ETF that will do the hard work for them."
While the US has only allowed ETFs linked to bitcoin futures, Europe and Canada have been far more permissive of bitcoin-based exchange-traded products, while some jurisdictions - notably the UK - have been even more strict, not allowing even a single fund to list.