Winklevoss twins plan first Bitcoin fund

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The brothers famous for their legal dispute with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg plan to launch a fund offering exposure to the virtual currency.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have filed an application with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to launch the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, with plans to sell an initial $20m (£13m) worth of shares to investors.

Bitcoin emerged four years ago and uses a complex mathematical construction to ensure that no more than 21m of them can ever be created. Only about half that amount has been created so far, with a market value of around $1bn.

The currency has been highly volatile, with its value moving from $15 a Bitcoin in January to a peak of $260 by 10 April, before dropping down to less than $90 today.

The trust would be an exchange-traded fund that holds Bitcoins, rather than tracking the prices of stocks, bonds or commodities like a traditional ETF.

The Winklevoss twins are key backers of the fund. Earlier this year, they told the New York Times that they own about 1 per cent of the whole stock of the virtual currency after spending around $11m on Bitcoins.

According to the SEC filing, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust is designed to “constitute a cost-effective and convenient means of gaining investment exposure to Bitcoins”.

However, it adds that “the sponsor and its management have no history of operating an investment vehicle like the trust, their experience may be inadequate or unsuitable to manage the trust”.

In May, former BlackRock managing director and Warwick Business School professor Jon Rushman called for a “rational debate” on the future of Bitcoin, following interest from technology enthusiasts and investors.

“It has been very volatile in price, which would put off a lot of investors, especially as you can’t see what is driving the price, ie what the market sentiment is behind it,” he said.

“People are still unsure in how much faith to place in it. It is not a huge market at the moment, but it is still at the experimental stage.

“The Bitcoin is testing our perceptions in so many ways and it is challenging regulators. It crosses and pushes boundaries and I would like to see a rational debate on how to use it in the future.”

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