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News/Bitcoin ETFs: Hong Kong's Timid Start Amid U.S. Selling Spree Hong Kong

Bitcoin ETFs: Hong Kong's Timid Start Amid U.S. Selling Spree Hong Kong

Van Thanh Le

May 2 2024

3 weeks ago4 minutes read
Cubic robot in Hong Kong's neon-lit district, symbolizing bitcoin ETF

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Debuts Bitcoin and Ether ETFs Amidst Modest Trading Volumes

Hong Kong's long-awaited crypto ETFs finally hit the market on April 30th, but their debut was met with a lukewarm reception from investors. The launch, which trailed behind the U.S.'s explosive ETF debut earlier in January, amassed a total of just $12 million across six new crypto ETFs on their opening day, starkly contrasted with the $4.6 billion recorded in the U.S.

The standout among the new offerings was the China Asset Management (CAM) Bitcoin ETF, capturing $4.6 million HKD in trades. However, its counterparts, the Bosera HashKey Bitcoin ETF and Bosera HashKey Ether ETF, garnered far less, with trading volumes of 249,000 HKD and 99,000 HKD, respectively. Despite high initial expectations predicting around $300 million in inflows, the actual total was a mere $11.9 million for all ETFs combined, reflecting a significant gap between expectations and reality.

Bitcoin, Ethereum spot ETFs debut on Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Source: HKEX

Hong Kong's regulatory environment has also played a crucial role. Unlike U.S. regulators who continue to scrutinize Ethereum, Hong Kong does not classify Ethereum as a security. This distinction has positioned Hong Kong as the pioneer market to introduce a spot Ethereum ETF, benefiting from the independence of its Securities and Futures Commission from U.S. regulatory debates.

While trading volumes were less than stellar, the introduction of these ETFs is viewed as a key development for boosting cryptocurrency exposure in Asian markets. Analysts remain optimistic, projecting that Hong Kong's ETFs could reach up to $1 billion in the next two years. This expectation persists despite a comparison with the U.S. where Hong Kong's $217 million in net inflows struggled to offset the $298 million net outflows from U.S. ETFs, underscoring a global market trend that challenges even significant new market entries.

Moreover, these new ETFs hold the potential to attract Chinese wealth and benefit from robust crypto exchanges and market makers in the Asia Pacific region. Although they currently fall outside programs allowing Chinese investors to access some Hong Kong ETFs, their introduction might catalyze discussions to broaden these programs.

On the second trading day, Hong Kong's three spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds experienced a significant decline in daily BTC inflows, dropping to 174.73 BTC from 3,910 BTC on the opening day. However, the total trading volume remained high at over $9.7 million on both days. The ETFs' combined net assets slightly decreased to $235.7 million. 

Record Outflows from US Bitcoin ETFs Despite Stable Operations

While Hong Kong's crypto ETFs made a modest entrance, the tides turned for their U.S. counterparts, with record outflows in the space. May 1, 2024, became a watershed moment for cryptocurrency investments in the US as BlackRock's iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) recorded its first-ever withdrawals, with $36.9 million departing the fund. 

This event spearheaded a larger movement within U.S.-based spot Bitcoin ETFs, cumulatively losing a staggering $563.7 million that day alone. Among these, the Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC) felt the sharpest sting, shedding $191.1 million, closely followed by the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) which saw $167.4 million evaporate.

etf outflow.png
Source: Farside

Concurrent with these outflows, Bitcoin's valuation took a significant hit, plummeting 10.7% over the past week and notching a nearly 15% decline for April—its most pronounced monthly drop post-FTX collapse, before recovering today. Despite the tumult, ETF analyst James Seyffart from Bloomberg maintains a steady outlook, reassuring investors about the natural ebb and flow of ETF life cycles and affirming the operational stability of these funds.


Nate Geraci, President of ETF Store, highlighted the resilience of gold investments. Despite witnessing outflows—$1 billion from iShares Gold ETF and $3 billion from SPDR Gold ETFs this year—gold prices have climbed by 16%. Since April 24, the cumulative net outflows from Bitcoin ETFs have approached $1.2 billion, largely propelled by speculative anticipations of U.S. Federal Reserve policy decisions. Even with the Fed's decision to maintain rates, spearheaded by Chair Jerome Powell, Bitcoin ETFs continued their downturn.

Notable withdrawals also hit other crypto ETFs; ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF and Franklin Bitcoin ETF witnessed $98.1 million and $13.4 million in outflows, respectively, on the same day. This widespread withdrawal and Bitcoin's price volatility underscore the shifting dynamics in investor sentiment and market uncertainty, especially in the realm of high-risk assets like cryptocurrencies.

Institutional Optimism Grows for Bitcoin ETFs Despite Market Volatility

Even as U.S. Bitcoin ETFs grappled with record outflows, a surprising institutional embrace began to take shape. BNP Paribas, Europe's second-largest bank by assets, has made a notable investment in BlackRock's iShares Bitcoin Trust. Acquiring 1,030 shares worth $41,684.10 in early 2024, this move is significant as it showcases one of the first major institutional engagements with a spot Bitcoin ETF. Although this investment represents a fraction of a Bitcoin's value, it underscores growing institutional interest in cryptocurrency investment vehicles.

BlackRock, holding the title of the world's largest asset manager, has intensified its efforts to educate major investors like sovereign wealth funds and pension plans about Bitcoin ETFs. Robert Mitchnick, the firm’s digital assets chief, emphasizes the strategy to inform rather than dominate the Bitcoin ETF market, notwithstanding stiff competition from entities like Grayscale’s GBTC.

Analysts discuss volatile bitcoin ETF market in stormy NYC office.webp

On another front, VanEck reports that around $175 billion in Bitcoin is currently held across various ETFs, national reserves, and corporate treasuries, accounting for 15% of the global Bitcoin supply. Since launching its own spot Bitcoin ETF in January, VanEck has seen substantial interest from hedge funds and asset managers, with assets under management now topping $600 million, validating Bitcoin’s appeal as a store of value.

Despite a recent price dip, with Bitcoin dropping from over $64,000 to about $57,000, the institutional outlook remains bullish. The collective assets under management in newly approved Bitcoin ETFs have exceeded $76 billion, signaling strong and continuing interest from institutional investors. Industry experts, including Matt Hougan of Bitwise, project enduring growth and adoption of Bitcoin ETFs among mainstream financial entities, driven by an expanding institutional footprint.


Hong Kong's crypto ETFs entered the market with muted fanfare, while US Bitcoin ETFs witnessed record outflows despite institutional optimism. The future of Bitcoin ETFs remains uncertain, caught between market volatility and growing institutional interest.


1. How did Hong Kong's Crypto ETF launch compare to the US launch?

Hong Kong's launch saw significantly lower trading volumes compared to the US, despite initial high expectations. However, Hong Kong has the advantage of offering a spot Ethereum ETF due to its regulatory stance.

2. What are the future projections for Hong Kong's Crypto ETFs?

Analysts project Hong Kong's ETFs could reach $1 billion in assets within two years, potentially attracting Chinese wealth and benefiting from regional market makers.

3. What caused the recent outflows from US Bitcoin ETFs?

Speculative anticipation around US Federal Reserve decisions is a major reason behind the record outflows. Bitcoin's price volatility and overall market uncertainty regarding high-risk assets also contributed.

4. Despite the outflows, are there signs of institutional interest in Bitcoin ETFs?

Yes, there are positive signs. Major institutions like BlackRock are educating investors about Bitcoin ETFs, while BNP Paribas made a noteworthy investment in a spot Bitcoin ETF. The total assets under management in new Bitcoin ETFs further highlight this institutional interest.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT.

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