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BlackRock Bitcoin ETF: How it works, benefits and drawbacks

Last Updated August 3, 2023 3:14 PM
Andrew Kamsky
Last Updated August 3, 2023 3:14 PM

Key Takeaways

  • BlackRock is a major global player in investment and advisory services 
  • BlackRock’s entry into the Bitcoin ETF space indicates an opportunity for increasing mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies worldwide.
  • The proposed BlackRock Bitcoin ETF aims to directly track the price of actual Bitcoins, offering investors transparency and accessibility.
  • There are potential drawbacks of BlackRock Bitcoin ETF, including regulatory hurdles and uncertainties in approval timelines.

Understanding BlackRock And The Bitcoin BlackRock ETF

BlackRock, who manages $8 trillion in assets  globally, is a leading global player in investment, advisory, and risk management solutions. BlackRock began the process of introducing a Bitcoin-based ETF on June 15, which gave Bitcoin supporters hope for widespread acceptance. It is anticipated that the SEC will approve it with a high probability. 

Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, believes that Bitcoin has the potential to “transcend any one currency” and serve as an international asset providing an alternative to traditional currencies like gold. He has compared  Bitcoin to gold, mentioning it as “digitizing gold,”  indicating its potential as a hedge against inflation and currency devaluation across different countries.He also goes on record to call the underlying Bitcoin technology “fantastic”.

BlackRock’s Experience In ETFs 

In 2023, BlackRock unveiled the iShares Global Corporate Bond ETF, offering investors a comprehensive mix of global corporate bonds exposure. Simultaneously, they launched the BlackRock U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF, targeting U.S. companies poised to thrive in a low-carbon future. BlackRock has had 575 ETF applications accepted and only 1 rejected back in 2014.

BlackRock holds history as an ETF innovators, introducing a series of 17 ETFs, among which were the first-ever international ETFs granting exposure to Mexico, Canada, and Brazil. Throughout its history, BlackRock has continuously pushed the boundaries of ETF offerings, reaffirming its position as a leading force in the financial industry.

What Is BlackRock’s iShares Blockchain And Tech ETF 

The iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF aims to replicate the investment performance of an index consisting of both U.S. and non-U.S. companies engaged in the development, innovation, and utilization of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies. Such types of ETFs are referred to as spot ETFs. 

A spot Bitcoin ETF directly holds and tracks the price of actual Bitcoins. A spot Bitcoin ETF provides investors with exposure to the real-time price movements of Bitcoin in the underlying market. This kind of ETF offers  a direct and transparent way for investors to gain exposure to the Bitcoin price without the need to hold or manage actual Bitcoins themselves.

The credibility behind BlackRock’s experience in ETFs and its position as the world’s largest asset manager, carries significant weight and credibility in the financial industry. The SEC might view BlackRock’s involvement as a sign of maturity and institutional acceptance of cryptocurrencies, which could positively influence the approval decision.

Benefits of BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF

If the BlackRock Bitcoin ETF is launched we can expect the following beneficial ripple effects to impact the Bitcoin market:

  • Institutional adoption: If BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF receives approval, it could encourage more institutions to adopt cryptocurrencies, legitimizing the Bitcoin market and providing a secure and regulated entry point for investors.
  • Diversification opportunity: With the inclusion of Bitcoin alongside other investment assets, the BlackRock Bitcoin ETF could present investors with a chance to diversify their portfolios.
  • Enhanced market structure: BlackRock’s proposed Bitcoin ETF functions more like a spot ETF, enabling direct purchase and holding of actual Bitcoin, thereby avoiding issues seen in products relying on speculative futures contracts.
  • Market stability and transparency: BlackRock’s reputable involvement might alleviate concerns about market manipulation, fostering a transparent and stable Bitcoin trading environment.
  • Reduced complexity for investors: A Bitcoin ETF provides an easier way for traditional investors to invest in Bitcoin without the need for digital wallets or cryptocurrency exchanges, making it more accessible.
  • Potential price impact: The expectation of BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF approval has had a positive effect on the market, leading to a swift recovery from recent Bitcoin losses.

Potential Drawbacks Of BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF

If the BlackRock Bitcoin ETF is launched we can also anticipate some key potential drawbacks that should be considered such as:

  • Regulatory hurdles: The SEC’s history of rejecting spot Bitcoin ETF applications, with over 30 rejections, raises concerns as to whether they will accept BlackRocks spot ETF.
  • Wall Street influence: A spot Bitcoin ETF might trigger a Bitcoin bull market, but it could also give traditional finance firms more control over the cryptocurrency space, raising debates among market players and Bitcoin maximalists over the benefits behind BlackRock’s ETF introduction.
  • Impact on Bitcoin network: A significant portion of actual Bitcoin in financial products like ETFs, even one-third of supply, may potentially harm the network’s decentralized nature and original purpose.
  • Uncertain approval: Optimism surrounds BlackRock’s filing, but experts caution against expecting immediate approval.  However, it is uncertain when it will be approved.
  • Hidden costs or risks: While some see BlackRock’s ETF as positive for Bitcoin, others warn of potential hidden costs or risks linked to these financial products, such as manipulation and loss of decentralization.

Will BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF Get The SEC Approval?

It is yet known whether BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF will get the SEC approval. However, the information indicates that the SEC has accepted BlackRock’s application for a spot Bitcoin ETF for review. 

While there are no guarantees that the SEC will approve, BlackRock’s filing has fueled speculation that permission is more likely due to their credibility in financial markets. It’s important to note that the approval process for ETFs can be lengthy, and the SEC may request additional information or make further evaluations before making a final decision.

BlackRocks Partnership With Coinbase Custody Trust Company

BlackRock collaborates with Coinbase, providing institutional investors access to Bitcoin through Coinbase Custody Trust Company as the custodian. This partnership showcases the increasing interest of traditional financial institutions in the crypto market, offering institutional investors a trusted entry point with BlackRock’s involvement.

While the precise start date of their affiliation remains uncertain, it is believed to have commenced in the second quarter of 2022. Coinbase’s role is critical in ensuring market integrity and overseeing potential market manipulation through a “surveillance-sharing” agreement. 

Designed for institutions, Coinbase Prime provides a comprehensive suite of services, including advanced agency trading, custody, prime financing, staking, and infrastructure, along with data and reporting capabilities to support the entire transaction lifecycle.


As we look to the future of Bitcoin, the emergence of ETFs, particularly with BlackRock’s involvement, signals a pivotal moment in the cryptocurrency’s journey. The approval of Bitcoin ETFs may lead to increased institutional adoption, market stability, and enhanced transparency. 

As traditional finance institutions like BlackRock step into the crypto space, they bring credibility and attract more investors. The combination of ETFs and BlackRock’s expertise creates an avenue for broader participation, solidifying Bitcoin’s position as a mature asset class, poised to enter a new phase of growth and acceptance on a global scale.


Will BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF lead to increased institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies? 

Yes, if approved, the ETF could encourage more institutions to enter the crypto market, legitimizing Bitcoin and attracting more investors.

How might BlackRock’s ETF benefit investors? 

BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF offers diversification opportunities and a transparent way to invest in Bitcoin without handling actual cryptocurrencies.

What are the potential drawbacks of BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF? 

Investors should be aware of potential drawbacks with BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF, including, regulatory hurdles, potential impact on the Bitcoin network decentralization, and uncertain ETF approval timelines are some concerns.

How does BlackRock’s affiliation with Coinbase impact the crypto market?

BlackRock’s collaboration with Coinbase reflects growing institutional interest, enhancing market integrity and oversight of potential market manipulation.

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