Cryptocurrency ETF outflows slow down to $17.6m in third quarter

Many bearish investors may have already abandoned the risky asset class in the second quarter

Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital asset based on market value, fell nearly 60 per cent during the second quarter of this year. Bloomberg
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The money flowing out of cryptocurrency-related funds in the third quarter has slowed down, a sign that many bearish investors may have already piled out of the risky asset class.

Investors pulled out $17.6 million from crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the three months ending September 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence.

That figure, as of Friday morning, is far below the record $683.4m withdrawn from such funds in the second quarter.

The outflows mainly took place in the past two months. In July, investors poured upwards of $200m into crypto ETFs.

Record outflows in the second quarter tracked plunging cryptocurrency prices.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital asset based on market value, fell nearly 60 per cent during the second quarter of this year and posted a record low of $17,785 on June 18. Bitcoin rose 3.7 per cent in the third quarter.

The more muted crypto-linked ETF outflows in the third quarter aligned with narrower fluctuations in prices. Bitcoin was trading above $19,400 on Friday, close to its price at the beginning of the quarter.

“I wonder if the second quarter was the ‘get me out’ part of these funds,” said Todd Sohn, ETF strategist at Strategas Securities.

The third quarter witnessed “some laggards” and investors with a “keeping-the-faith mentality” waiting for crypto to rebound, he added.

Global markets have sunk in the past few months as central banks around the world raise interest rates to curb soaring inflation. Risk assets like cryptocurrencies have been especially hard hit as recessionary fears rise.

“Everything’s more correlated right now,” said Stephane Ouellette, chief executive of FRNT Financial, a crypto broker.

“The people who are buying the ETF are in the same position as the people who are in Bitcoin,” he said. “Everyone’s panicking, so they’re acting the same.”

But investors who pool their money in funds tend to be different than holders of tokens, Mr Sohn said. Those who put their money in crypto ETFs may do so to hedge the risks associated with buying digital tokens directly, he added.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has repeatedly blocked the creation of a physically backed US Bitcoin ETF, despite other countries offering such options. As a result, US investors generally look to trusts or derivatives-backed crypto ETFs.

Earlier last month, the Hashdex Bitcoin Futures ETF (ticker DEFI), a futures-backed product, launched and could pave the way for a US Bitcoin ETF.

Updated: October 01, 2022, 10:58 AM
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