Winklevoss Twins at the Crypto Finance Conference in Switzerland January 2020

Besides its breathtaking mountains, world-famous chocolate and wartime neutrality, Switzerland is perhaps best known for its commitment to financial privacy. Banking secrecy became law in 1934, making it a crime for Swiss banks to disclose accountholder information of any kind to third parties.

Although such privacy laws have been impacted in recent years—mostly by U.S.-led global efforts to counter money laundering and tax evasion—Swiss banks still enjoy a reputation for being secure and discreet, and they continue to attract assets from all over the world.

It’s appropriate, then, that the country should host the world’s most private conference on what’s potentially the most private asset class: cryptocurrencies. This week, hundreds of crypto investors, experts and enthusiasts from all around the globe descended on the legendary skiing resort town of St. Moritz to attend and learn at the Crypto Finance Conference.

The conference’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Bitcoin had its best start to the year since 2012, rising more than 22 percent in the first 15 days.

Bitcoin is having its best start to the year since 2012
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Among the biggest contributors to the rally, as I see it, is the hope that 2020 could finally see institutional investors move into the digital field en masse, prompted by growing client demand and more attractive ways to get exposure than direct ownership of coins. Earlier in the week, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launched one such product, a bitcoin options contract, which reportedly had a successful first day of trading with a total of 55 contracts, worth 275 bitcoin, or the equivalent of $2.4 million.

Who Will Be First With a Bitcoin ETF?

Advisors, though, may be holding out for an exchange-traded fund (ETF) backed by cryptos such as bitcoin, if a recent survey is any indication. As much as 65 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by crypto indexer Bitwise and ETF Trends said that a crypto ETF was their preferred method of getting exposure, followed by a distant 16 percent preferring direct ownership and an even more distant 9 percent preferring a mutual fund.

advisors appear to be holding out for a crypto ETF
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At the moment, no such ETF is available because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has yet to approve one. Bitwise, in fact, withdrew its proposal for a bitcoin ETF this week, with Bitwise global head of research Matt Hougan telling The Block that the firm intends “to refile our application at an appropriate time.”

It’s no exaggeration to say that a bitcoin ETF is highly anticipated.

If you recall, I explored the feasibility of launching such a product a couple of years ago, ultimately deciding that the regulatory hurdles were too prohibitively high. Instead, we elected to bring to market the world’s first publicly traded crypto-mining firm, HIVE Blockchain Technologies. More than two years after its debut on the TSX Venture Exchange, investors continue to use it as a proxy for digital assets.

This week HIVE announced an incredible 20 percent increase in newly mined Ether coins compared to the last 15 days of December 2019. That’s thanks to the completion of the company’s Ethereum network upgrade dubbed the “Muir Glacier.” You can read more about the development by clicking here.