For the cryptocurrency-averse, there’s a Canadian blockchain exchange-traded fund in the works that will be anchored by less venturesome investments such as Wal-Mart Inc.
Vancouver-based First Block Capital is in the final stages of obtaining regulatory approval for the FBC Digital Ledger Technology Adopters ETF, and expects it to begin trading on Canada’s Aequitas NEO Exchange next month, Bill Stormont, the firm’s chief operating officer, said in an interview.
“The fund won’t rely on the blockchain sector being fashionable,” said Mr. Stormont, who earlier co-managed a pan-European equity fund at Henderson Global Investors in London. ”You’re looking at companies that are going concerns. They don’t necessarily live or die by their blockchain investments, but as they integrate them, our hope is that these kind of names perform.”
The fund will be sub-managed by Bruce Campbell, portfolio manager at StoneCastle Investment Management Inc., and roughly 75-per-cent weighted toward blue-chip stocks. Only a quarter of the portfolio will be invested in higher-risk developers and cryptocurrency miners.
“We’re really looking at companies that are household names – IBM, Maersk, Amazon – all of these big companies which are using blockchain to enhance their business,” he said. A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container-shipping line, and International Business Machines Corp. started a blockchain-based platform earlier this month to speed up shipments.
First Block follows on the heels of two similar funds in the United States, the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF and the Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF, which raised almost US$300-million in just over two weeks after listing in January. Those ETFs were also criticized for charging investors a hefty premium to hold plain-vanilla technology stocks such as Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp., and Nvidia Corp., which produces the chips used by miners of cryptocurrencies such as ethereum.
While some overlap in holdings is unavoidable, First Block aims to scour a wider universe of stocks for the fund, Mr. Stormont said. ”Names like Nvidia – every ETF will hold that,” he said. ”But we’ll also bring in names like Maersk or Walmart. It’s not just focused on tech companies.”