Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are a type of ETP. They are investment companies that are legally classified as open-end companies or unit investment trusts (UITs) and that are similar to mutual funds or closed-ends funds except for a few differences. They are pooled investments that offer a return similar to that of an index. ETFs trade like an individual stock on major stock exchanges. The price of an ETF changes throughout the day just like a stock as it is bought and sold by investors. Unlike a mutual fund, ETFs do not have a NAV (Net Asset Value) that is calculated daily.
The differences include that ETFs do not sell individual shares directly to investors and only issue shares in large blocks called creation units; that after purchasing a creation unit, an investor often splits it up and sells the individual shares on a secondary market; and that investors buy creation units not with cash, but with a basket of securities that generally mirrors the ETF's portfolio.
Currently, all ETFs seek to achieve the same return as a particular market index. Such an ETF is similar to an index fund in that it will primarily invest in the securities of companies that are included in a selected market index. An ETF will invest in either all of the securities or a representative sample of the securities included in the index.
In March 2017, the SEC rejected Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss' proposal to list a bitcoin ETF on Cboe's Bats BZX Exchange, which was originally proposed in 2013. According to the SEC's statement, this was due in large part to the lack of regulation for bitcoin "to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices and to protect investors and the public interest."
In June 2018, the twins tried again, submitting a second, amended proposal to the SEC to trade bitcoin ETF shares through the Bats BZX exchange. Once again, the SEC rejected the proposal, citing lack of sufficient market surveillance and strong evidence for the proposal's claims that the bitcoin market is "strongly resistant to manipulation." Following the news, the price of bitcoin dropped by 3.6 percent.
In May 2019, a company called Crescent Crypto Asset Management proposed a crypto-based ETF to the SEC sponsored by the United States Commodity Funds LLC (USCF), a commodity pool operator regulated by the CFTC.
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