Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust issued almost twice as many shares, but arbitrage could have played a role.
The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, an investment tool that aims to provide an indirect exposure to Bitcoin (BTC) for investors in traditional markets, reported a significant increase in how many shares it issued between Q2 and Q1 of 2020.
According to an Aug. 7 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the trust issued more than 87 million shares in Q2 2020, compared to the total of 133 million shares issued for all of 2020.
The trust issued almost 90% more shares in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first. This also represents more than a six-fold increase compared to the first half of 2019, when only 23 million shares were issued.
Net assets increased by $1.6 billion in Q2 2020 to a $3.5 billion total. About half of this growth came from the appreciation of Bitcoin held by the trust, amounting to 386,720 BTC as of June 30. At current market prices, it would be worth $4.4 billion.
Grayscale is often criticized for the impossibility in redeeming the trust’s shares. Some institutions and accredited investors are able to purchase shares at their true value as determined by how much Bitcoin the trust is holding. However, doing so requires a minimum six months waiting period as the shares in the trust are locked up.
The GBTC trust has consistently traded at a significant premium over its net asset value, meaning that investors are overpaying to gain indirect exposure to Bitcoin.
In addition to the lock up period that limits potential arbitrage plays, some noted that there is no mechanism to balance the trust’s share prices should they trade at a discount.
According to yCharts, the premium generally stays around 20%. However, it saw considerable dips to 10% in April and July of 2020, potentially signaling the presence of arbitrage traders. However, given that the premium returned to mean values, it is unlikely that arbitrage accounts for the entirety of the trust’s growth.
Some of these issues may explain community excitement for a Bitcoin ETF. In addition to potentially trading on well-known exchanges, exchange-traded funds also see a daily arbitrage of their share price compared to the value of its assets, ensuring that their prices track their underlying assets.
Cointelegraph previously reported that Grayscale’s Ethereum Trust trades at even higher premiums.