GBTC’s Closing NAV Discount and Steep Fees Trigger Outflows, ETF Analyst Expects ‘More Over Time’

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Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) greenlit the debut of 11 diverse spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which, in their initial two days on the market, experienced a substantial $7.65 billion in trading volume. Concurrently, while a host of new entrants enjoyed strong inflows, Grayscale’s GBTC encountered notable outflows, coinciding with the fund’s discount to net asset value reaching its lowest point since February 2021.

Reduced NAV Discount Prompts GBTC Outflows

On Saturday, Eric Balchunas, the senior ETF analyst for Bloomberg, shared insights on the “nine newborn” spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which have impressively gathered $1.4 billion in cash. Balchunas observed that this surge in capital markedly outstrips the $579 million outflow from the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), leading to a net investment growth of $819 million. He further noted that these trades boasted an average premium of 20 basis points.

Following his analysis, when queried about the significant withdrawal from GBTC, Balchunas responded:

Lots of [traders] came in to play the discount closing so they [are] leaving to take profits, there’s also captive [average investors] who may have decided to stomach the tax hit in order to flee the 1.5% fee … I’d expect more [over] time.

Balchunas’ observations resonate with the recent outflows from Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), as onchain analysts noted a significant movement of 4,000 BTC, valued at $175 million, exiting GBTC’s bitcoin wallet holdings on Friday. This coincides with GBTC’s discount to its net asset value (NAV) reaching its lowest point since February 2021, a stark contrast to its prior premium status before February 23, 2021. Alongside this shift to a more normalized NAV discount, Grayscale’s ETF management fees stand out as the highest among the 11 ETFs approved last week.

Notably, seven of these funds boast management fees below 0.30%, with Bitwise’s BITB leading at a minimal 0.20% fee. Ark’s ARKB, Fidelity’s FBTC, and Blackrock’s IBIT each offer a competitive 0.25% fee, matched by Valkyrie’s BRRR and Vaneck’s HODL. Close behind is Franklin Templeton’s EZBC at 0.29% and Wisdomtree’s BTCW at 0.30%, while Invesco’s fee is slightly higher at 0.39%. Hashdex’s 0.94% fee for its DEFI fund is the only one approaching GBTC’s substantial 1.5% management fee, suggesting that the more favorable fees of these new funds could be a factor in investors’ shift away from GBTC.

Furthermore, an appealing incentive for investors in the U.S. is the temporary waiver of management fees offered by seven of the 11 newly approved spot bitcoin ETFs, allowing early investors to participate without any fees for a limited time. This is a significant change from when GBTC, traded over-the-counter (OTC), charged a 2% management fee, which was reduced in anticipation of its ETF transition. As new entrants strive to emulate Grayscale’s decade-long leadership in this domain, it’s noteworthy that GBTC still holds a formidable 618,000 BTC, dwarfing the recent inflows to these new ETFs by a long shot.

What do you think about GBTC’s outflows? Share your thoughts and opinions about this subject in the comments section below.

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