In the bull market of 2017, crypto investors paid more than $40,000 per Bitcoin (BTC) to purchase the dominant cryptocurrency.
In the US market, a product called the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) offered by Grayscale Investment, a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group (DCG) exists that allows retail investors to invest in Bitcoin through the same account used in the stock market and other public markets.
Every share of GBTC, an investment vehicle listed on OTC Markets, an American financial market providing price and liquidity information for 10,000 over-the-counter securities, represents one-thousandth of one Bitcoin. 1,000 GBTC is equivalent to one Bitcoin which the operators of GBTC hold, as trusted and regulated custodians.
On December 18, when the price of Bitcoin reached an all-time high of around $19,500 across major cryptocurrency markets including the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, the share price of GBTC achieved a peak of around $39.
Investors who purchased GBTC shares at the time paid a premium of exactly 100 percent to invest in BTC. In other words, investors in the public US market bought Bitcoin at a price that was twice higher than the price listed on cryptocurrency exchanges.
Currently, the share price of GBTC is $5, which means investors in the public market are still trading BTC with a premium of more than 10 percent.
Historically, GBTC has always recorded a premium in the range of 10 to 30 percent because investors find merit in investing in BTC through a strictly regulated investment vehicle that fully protects and insure its investors.
In Oct 2017, a billionaire investor and the owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, said at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles that he personally invested in Bitcoin through an exchange-traded note (ETN) based in Sweden with an account in the U.S.
“It is interesting because there are a lot of assets which their value is just based on supply and demand. Most stocks, there is no intrinsic value because you have no true ownership rights and no voting rights. You just have the ability to buy and sell those stocks. Bitcoin is the same thing. Its value is based on supply demand. I have bought some through an ETN based on a Swedish exchange.”
An individual investor could open an account with Coinbase and other fiat on-ramps to invest in the digital asset, but the process is still complex pertaining regulation and compliance to the majority of retail traders, which also led Cuban to invest in the asset through an overseas market.
As Susquehanna executive Bart Smith said, due to a lack of on-ramps and fiat-to-crypto investment vehicles for individual investors, the liquidity of BTC is low. It was even lower in 2017 as portrayed by the significant premium on GBTC in December of last year.
In the months to come, as more investment products and vehicles like ETPs, ETFs, ETNs, and custodian solutions emerge, the premium on cryptocurrency-focused on-ramps is expected to decline.
Featured image from Shutterstock.