Will You Invest in a Bitcoin ETF?

By Motley Fool StaffMarketsFool.com

In this clip from theMarket Foolery podcast, Chris Hill and Simon Erickson return to the land of cryptocurrency. While many investors remain skeptical, over the past 12 months, bitcoin has quadrupled in value, clearing $1,100. The cast provides updates on this digital currency and how a bitcoin ETF could change the game.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Feb. 14, 2017.

Chris Hill: Here'ssomething we haven't talked about in ...I don't even remember the last time wetalked about bitcoin,but we're going to talk about bitcoin.

I feel like, if he's listening over in Germany,Matt Koppenheffer is smiling, if not outright laughing at me, because I've been bearish on bitcoin from the start, and over the past year, the price of bitcoin has quadrupled. It broke the $1,000 mark last week, and it's dipped back down. But you're someone, likeMatt Koppenheffer, who's beenpretty bullish on bitcoin. First, before we diginto the news with bitcoin, tell me why. Why the bull case for bitcoin? Because, to me, it just seems likeMonopoly money, it seems like a made-up currency, andas I have admitted before,the fact that the Winklevoss twins wereinvolved in this doesn'thelp the bull case, in my opinion.

Simon Erickson:Right. This iskind of an ethereal discussion here, Chris. There's a lot ofspeculation in bitcoin right now. Wedon't have any stocks tied to this --

Hill:Not yet. We'll get to that.

Erickson:Yes,exactly. But it is a very interesting story. Just, generally,my personal thesis,disclaimer, I own one bitcoin, have had quite a year with that.[laughs]

Hill:Congratulations, that's worked out well for you.

Erickson:But,I think there's just a lot of transactionalfriction in the way that we buy and sell things today. Think about it, we'rebuilt off of a financing infrastructure. You have a bank account thatyou have a credit card that ties into, youpay your statement at the end of the month, andevery step along the way, somebody is taking a small piece of this. Butit's the way that we built it out over the last several decades. And if you build adigital infrastructurecorrectly, as bitcoin did andBlockchain is trying to do, you don't needa lot of those steps. It's basically digital cash. I always think about it as, you'rehanding a digital dollar to somebody, and that's it. There'sno statements. There's no financing. There's no APR at the end of the year, anything like that. But to do that, there's a lot ofregulators who don't like thatbecause you can do bad things with that. Youcan't track the person giving you the cash at the end of the day and various other things. That's hadbitcoin held back on what its true potential, possibly, could be. Butat the end of the day, you'restarting to see more and more transactions using bitcoin allacross the globe, not just in the United States, but in China andJapan and a bunch of different places. Because bitcoin isgoing to tap out at 21 million bitcoins, once they're mined, you have a fixed supply and increasing demand, and that's pushing the value of each one bitcoin up over the years.

Hill:We've seen this run up over the past 12 months,and you look at the fact that the SEC is considering threeseparate potential bitcoin ETFs. Considering approval of any one of the three. Let's say one of them gets approved -- what kind of run-up are we going to see then? Becauseif we're seeing this run-up now ...this actually gets me,I don't want to say bullish on bitcoin,but it gets me slightly less bearish as an investor, because ETFs are a way that a lot of people investif they're looking to get exposure to something without really having the concentrated upside and, therefore, downside of a single stock.I'm not looking to buy a bitcoin, but I'mslightly more interestedin a bitcoin ETF. What happens if they actually approve one of these things?

Erickson:Sure. On thecontinuum of uncertainty, it goes down a notch. If the SEC is going to say, "This is alright, to create bitcoin ETFs," andthey have until March 11th, I believe, to approve of this, but the people who said, "No way, this is too early, I haveso many questions about this even being possible,"those people will start saying, "You know,this still sounds speculative to me, but I think it's interesting now that the SEC is behind it." Basically, anything new, almost all of innovation has got a zillionquestions when it first gets introduced that, over time, as it grows and getsmore and more approvals or people behind it, the questions tend to either linger or go away. And I thinkthat's what you're seeing with bitcoin. That's what the SEC decisionis going to have an impact on this.

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