Dive into crypto: Owning vs ETFs – Unveiling the pros & cons

The cryptocurrency market has grown exponentially recently and garnered significant attention from investors, regulators, and the financial media. A critical development in making cryptocurrencies more accessible to mainstream investors has been the advent of Cryptocurrency ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds). 

These financial instruments offer a way to invest in cryptocurrencies without directly buying, storing, and managing them. While this innovation brings numerous advantages, it also comes with its own set of challenges. This article delves into the pros and cons of investing in a Cryptocurrency ETF.

What is a Cryptocurrency ETF?

A cryptocurrency ETF (Exchange-traded fund) is a financial instrument that allows investors to trade crypto and be exposed to price movements of cryptocurrencies without directly buying, storing, or managing digital assets. 

Like traditional ETFs, Cryptocurrency ETFs are designed to track the performance of either a single cryptocurrency or a basket of cryptocurrencies. They can be based on direct holdings of the underlying assets or futures contracts with cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency ETFs, like stocks and conventional ETFs, can be bought and sold through traditional brokerage accounts. This situation makes them accessible to a broader range of investors who might be hesitant to navigate the complexities of cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets.

Many cryptocurrency ETFs are traded on regulated exchanges, providing investors with oversight and protection. This regulatory framework can reduce the risks associated with unregulated digital currency markets.

Some Cryptocurrency ETFs include a mix of different cryptocurrencies, offering a diversified exposure to the crypto market. This situation can help spread risk compared to investing in a single digital asset, which can be more volatile.

ETFs generally offer high liquidity, which allows investors to buy or sell shares quickly. This is particularly advantageous in the highly volatile cryptocurrency market, where prices can fluctuate dramatically.

When investing in a Cryptocurrency ETF, you do not own the cryptocurrency. Instead, you own shares of the ETF, which holds the assets. You don’t have to deal with the technical challenges of storing and securing digital currencies.

Cryptocurrency ETFs often have management fees, which affect returns over time. These fees cover the costs of managing the ETF and maintaining the underlying assets.

Some ETFs do not hold the physical cryptocurrency but instead invest in futures contracts or other derivatives that track its price. This situation can lead to differences in performance compared to directly holding the assets.

Types of Cryptocurrency ETFs

Spot ETFs are funds that directly hold cryptocurrency assets, providing direct exposure to the price movements of the underlying digital currencies.

Futures-based ETFs invest in futures contracts rather than the actual cryptocurrencies. Futures are agreements to buy or sell an asset at a future date for a specified price.

Index-based ETFs aim to replicate the performance of a cryptocurrency index, which may include a range of cryptocurrencies. This type of ETF provides diversified exposure across multiple digital assets.

Pros of a Cryptocurrency ETF

A Cryptocurrency ETF can be purchased through traditional brokerage accounts, making it easier for investors to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies without navigating the complexities of digital wallets and exchanges.

Digital or cryptocurrency exchanges are online platforms to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. When you trade through a digital cryptocurrency exchange, you generally own the assets you purchase. Still, the nuances can vary depending on the type of exchange and the nature of your trading.


Many Cryptocurrency ETFs are designed to track a basket of digital currencies. This diversification can help investors spread risk compared to investing in a single cryptocurrency. 

Regulated Environment

ETFs are usually traded on regulated exchanges, providing investor protection. This regulation can mitigate the risks associated with scams and fraudulent activities that are more prevalent in unregulated cryptocurrency markets.

Cryptocurrency ETFs are typically regulated by financial regulatory bodies in the country where they are offered. For example, in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) governs ETFs, including those related to cryptocurrencies. Similar financial regulatory bodies would oversee the regulation of cryptocurrency ETFs in other countries.


ETFs are generally highly liquid, meaning investors can easily buy and sell shares. This liquidity is beneficial because it allows investors to quickly enter or exit positions, providing more control over their investments.

Tax Efficiency

ETFs can offer tax efficiencies through mechanisms like in-kind creation and redemption processes, which can minimize capital gains taxes compared to mutual funds.

Due to the volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market, tax efficiency may be a concern for cryptocurrency ETFs specifically. If investors are actively trading their cryptocurrency ETF, they may trigger capital gains taxes on any profits made. Additionally, the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies can vary by country, so investors should be aware of the tax implications in their jurisdiction.

Lower Entry Barriers

Traditional cryptocurrency investments may require significant capital, especially for high-value coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum. ETFs can be bought in smaller units, making cryptocurrency investments accessible to retail investors.

Investing in a cryptocurrency ETF may be more cost-effective than buying individual cryptocurrencies, as ETFs typically have lower fees and expenses than actively managed funds. Cryptocurrency ETFs are traded on traditional stock exchanges, making them more accessible to a broader range of investors who may not have the technical knowledge or expertise to buy and store cryptocurrencies securely.

Cons of a Cryptocurrency ETF

Most ETFs come with management fees, which can erode returns over time. These fees can be relatively high for Cryptocurrency ETFs due to the specialized management and storage needed for digital assets.

ETFs aim to replicate the performance of an underlying index or asset but may not do so perfectly. Tracking errors can occur, leading to a discrepancy between the performance of the ETF and the value of the underlying cryptocurrencies. Given the highly volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market, tracking errors in cryptocurrency ETFs can be relatively high compared to traditional ETFs that track more stable assets like stocks. This scenario is because cryptocurrency prices can experience significant fluctuations in a short period, leading to differences between the performance of the ETF and the underlying assets it is tracking.

Limited Ownership

You do not own the digital assets when investing in a Cryptocurrency ETF. This situation means you miss out on the benefits of direct ownership, such as using the cryptocurrencies for transactions or staking them to earn rewards.

Cryptocurrency staking is validating transactions and securing a blockchain network by holding and “staking” a certain amount of cryptocurrency in a wallet. In proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain networks, validators are chosen to create new blocks and validate transactions based on the number of coins they hold and are willing to “stake” as collateral.

When individuals stake their cryptocurrency, they are essentially locking up a certain amount of their coins as collateral to support the security and functionality of the blockchain network. In return for staking their coins, validators may earn staking rewards, which are given as incentives for helping to secure the network and validate transactions.

Staking rewards can vary depending on the specific blockchain network and the amount of cryptocurrency staked. Some networks offer higher rewards for validators who stake more coins or participate in network governance activities.

Staking allows cryptocurrency holders to potentially earn a passive income by participating in the operation of a blockchain network without the need for expensive mining equipment or technical expertise. However, staking also comes with risks, such as the potential loss of staked coins in the event of network issues or malicious behavior.

Cryptocurrency staking is gaining popularity as a way for investors to earn rewards and support the decentralization and security of blockchain networks. Before participating, individuals interested in staking must research the specific network and understand the risks and potential rewards.

Indirect Exposure

Many cryptocurrency ETFs, mainly those approved so far in the U.S., invest in futures contracts rather than directly in the cryptocurrencies. This indirect exposure can lead to different risk and return profiles compared to holding the actual cryptocurrencies.

Regulatory Risks

The regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies continues to evolve. ETF providers must comply with regulatory requirements, which can change and impact the liquidity, availability, and price of the ETF. Unfavorable regulatory changes could negatively impact ETF performance.

Limited Selection


Compared to other asset classes, the range of Cryptocurrency ETFs is relatively limited. This limited selection can affect an investor’s ability to find an ETF that perfectly aligns with their investment strategy or risk tolerance.

The Bottom Line

Cryptocurrency ETFs offer a compelling gateway for traditional investors to enter the digital asset space while providing benefits such as ease of access, diversification, and a regulated environment. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the associated costs, the potential for tracking error, and the unique risks the underlying volatile asset class poses. As the cryptocurrency market matures and more products become available, investors must weigh these pros and cons carefully to make informed decisions that align with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

Ultimately, while Cryptocurrency ETFs can be a valuable addition to an investment portfolio, they should be approached with a thorough understanding of their advantages and limitations.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored content and is not financial advice. CryptoNewsZ does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the content. Readers should verify information independently and exercise caution when dealing with any mentioned company. Investing in cryptocurrencies is risky, and seeking advice from a qualified professional is recommended.

Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson has been following the crypto market for the past seven years. As a crypto news journalist, he has recently joined our team. He regularly delivers the most recent happenings of the crypto space. He enjoys writing poems and exploring various crypto trading platforms in his spare time.

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