Bitcoin owners don’t want to deal with holding their own bitcoin

If only there was an easier way.
If only there was an easier way.
Image: Reuters/Dado Ruvic
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Bitcoin is red-hot, having gained over 1,000% this year. But a survey of bitcoin holders by LendEdu, a student loan comparison website, shows that Americans who already own bitcoin would really rather own the asset using a more convenient vehicle, like in an exchange-traded fund (ETF).

The LendEdu survey, conducted earlier this month (Nov.), recorded the responses of 564 Americans who owned bitcoin. Here’s what those bitcoin owners said about owning the cryptocurrency through an ETF:

If possible, would you rather own bitcoin through an ETF that accurately tracked the price of bitcoin?

The survey doesn’t address the reasons for favoring an ETF over holding actual bitcoin, but it’s not hard to see the attractions. Bitcoins can get hacked (over $4 billion has been stolen so far, by Reuters’ count); they can get lost (or more accurately, the private keys granting access to them can get lost, as this epic Wired piece recounts); and it’s generally a pain to make sure they’re secure. An ETF offloads all those problems to giant mutual funds, and consumers can just buy units in the ETF through their usual stock brokerage accounts. The Winklevoss twins, of Facebook-lawsuit fame, have been trying to get a bitcoin ETF approved for years.

The same bitcoin holders also appeared to have an appetite for more complex instruments. Some 43% of those polled said they wanted to own bitcoin through futures contracts. Such an instrument would allow them to bet on the price of bitcoin in the future, and potentially reap the rewards even if the price falls. It would also allow them to hedge against volatility in their current bitcoin holdings. Here’s how people responded to the futures question:

If possible, would you rather own bitcoin through futures contracts?

Bitcoin holders appeared to be confident about the cryptocurrency’s future prospects in the face of competition from other coins. Over 84% of respondents said they believed bitcoin would remain the most valuable cryptocurrency in five years. That said, the majority of respondents—or about 51%—said they owned another cryptocurrency besides bitcoin. The most popular of those was ether, which 30% said they owned alongside their bitcoin holdings.