Decoding Bitcoin Investment Vehicles: A Comparative Analysis of GBTC, BITO, and Hong Kong BTC ETFs

By Standard Kepler

Concluding Thoughts and Key Takeaways

Investors interested in Bitcoin exposure have a plethora of options. However, the decision-making process should consider elements like fund structure, regulatory environment, asset size, trading venue, and fees.

  1. GBTC, BITO, CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF, and Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF are all popular vehicles for Bitcoin exposure, each with unique structures and strategies.
  2. GBTC trades akin to a closed-end fund and may see significant premiums or discounts to the Bitcoin spot price, while BITO and the Hong Kong BTC ETFs typically track the Bitcoin price more closely due to their futures-based composition.
  3. The management fees across these funds vary, with BITO offering the lowest rate.
  4. BITO trades on an exchange under U.S. SEC oversight, while GBTC trades OTC. The Hong Kong BTC ETFs, CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF, and Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF, trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  5. Investors need to evaluate these factors along with their investment goals, risk tolerance, and market expectations before choosing a Bitcoin investment product.


The digital asset market has witnessed rapid growth and diversification, with an array of investment vehicles providing exposure to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Among the preferred options are Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF (3066.HK), and Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF (3135.HK). Each product offers distinctive characteristics, making investment in Bitcoin available through varied strategies.

Structural Overview and Market Size

GBTC operates like a closed-end fund under a trust structure, with potential large premiums or discounts to the Bitcoin price due to its closed nature. At present, GBTC manages a colossal asset worth $19.5 billion and holds 625,700 BTC. In contrast, BITO is an ETF structure with over $1 billion in managed assets, holding Bitcoin futures contracts, and therefore its price is expected to closely mirror the Bitcoin spot price.

In addition, Hong Kong BTC ETFs, such as the CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF and Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF, invest in Bitcoin futures contracts traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). According to CSOP Asset Management, these ETFs offer an “easy transparent way” for investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin’s performance. The CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF currently reports a Net Asset Value (NAV) of 3,874,699 USD, while the Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF’s NAV stands at 4,892,773 USD.

Price Dynamics

Historically, GBTC has experienced wide fluctuations between its market price and the net asset value (NAV) of its holdings. At its peak in 2018, investors were paying a 100% premium over the spot price of Bitcoin to invest in GBTC. However, as of 2023 July, it traded at a 27% discount to Bitcoin’s price, resulting in lower returns for investors. In contrast, BITO, 3066.HK and 3135.HK, given their ETF structure and futures holdings, is likely to track Bitcoin’s spot price more accurately, although its value may slowly decline due to ongoing roll costs.

grayscale bitcoin trust
On December 13th, 2022, the discount to NAV for GBTC reached its lowest point, at -48.89%

Trading Mechanism and Regulatory Environment

The funds exhibit notable differences in trading mechanisms and regulatory conditions. BITO, an ETF, can be traded like a regular stock on an exchange under the regulatory purview of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). On the other hand, GBTC, a trust fund, is traded in the over-the-counter (OTC) market, with specific investor eligibility prerequisites.

The Hong Kong BTC ETFs, CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF and Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF, are both traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. These Hong Kong-based products not only reflect the global trend towards more varied digital asset investment vehicles but also indicate the regulatory openness towards such products in various jurisdictions.

Fee Structures

The fee structures across these funds vary considerably. BITO imposes a relatively lower annual management fee of 0.95% compared to GBTC’s 2%. The Hong Kong BTC ETFs have competitive fee structures, with the Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF charging a management fee of 0.89% and CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF charging an all-in management fee of 1.99% per annum.

Comparison Table

GBTCBITOCSOP Bitcoin Futures ETFSamsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF
StructureTrustETF (Holds Bitcoin futures)ETF (Holds Bitcoin futures)ETF (Holds Bitcoin futures)
Assets Under Management (USD)$19.5 billionOver $1 billion3,874,6994,892,773
Trading VenueOTCNYSE ArcaHong Kong Stock ExchangeHong Kong Stock Exchange
Management Fee2% per annum0.95% per annum1.99% per annum0.89% per annum
By Standard Kepler

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