BTCX vs. BTCC: Which Bitcoin ETF Is the Better Buy for Canadian Investors?

Canada’s two most popular Bitcoin ETFs go head to head.

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A depiction of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin

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Welcome to a series where I break down and compare some of the most popular exchange-traded funds (ETFs) available to Canadian investors!

The largest cryptocurrency by market cap, Bitcoin (CRYPTO:BTC) has become one of the most popular investments in recent years.

Thanks to fund providers like CI Global Asset Management and Purpose Investments, Canadian investors have some great ETFs to choose from for exposure to the spot price of Bitcoin

These ETFs hold the underlying Bitcoin in offline cold storage with a custodian and divvy it up into shares, which are bought and sold on the stock market during normal trading hours.

Buying a share of these ETFs essentially gives you exposure to a proportionate amount of Bitcoin. What’s cool is that these ETFs can be held in your TFSA or RRSP, meaning that when you sell, you pay zero income tax.

The two tickers up for consideration today are CI Galaxy Bitcoin ETF (TSX:BTCX.B) and Purpose Bitcoin ETF (TSX:BTCC.B). Which one is the better option? Keep reading to find out.

BTCX.B vs. BTCC.B: Fees

The fee charged by an ETF is expressed as the management expense ratio (MER). This is the percentage that is deducted from the ETF’s net asset value (NAV) over time and is calculated on an annual basis. For example, an MER of 0.50% means that for every $10,000 invested, the ETF charges a fee of $50 annually.

BTCX.B has an MER of 0.95% versus BTCC.B at 1%, making the former very slightly cheaper. On a $10,000 portfolio, picking BTCX.B over BTCC.B would save you around $5 per year, which may seem small but can add up over long periods of time.

BTCX.B vs. BTCC.B: Size

The size of an ETF is very important. Funds with small assets under management (AUM) may have poor liquidity, low trading volume, high bid-ask spreads, and more risk of being delisted due to lack of interest.

BTCX.B has attracted AUM of $248.85 million, whereas BTCC.B has AUM of $1.5 billion. Although both are sufficient for a buy-and-hold investor, BTCC.B is currently the more popular ETF among Canadian investors.

BTCX.B vs. BTCC.B: Holdings

BTCX.B holds around 0.0015 Bitcoin per share. This is how much Bitcoin you have a claim to by buying one share of the ETF. Conversely, if you bought around 666 shares of BTCC.B, you would roughly own the equivalent of one Bitcoin. The ETF currently holds approximately 4,907 Bitcoin in cold storage.

BTCC.B holds around 0.00016202 Bitcoin per share. This is how much Bitcoin you have a claim to by buying one share of the ETF. Conversely, if you bought around 6,172 shares of BTCC.B, you would roughly own the equivalent of one Bitcoin. The ETF currently holds approximately 30,678 Bitcoin in cold storage.

Both ETFs are not currency hedged, meaning that their share prices can be affected by fluctuations between the CAD-USD exchange rate. This introduces additional volatility for investors.

BTCX.B vs. BTCC.B: Historical performance

A cautionary statement before we dive in: past performance is no guarantee of future results, which can and will vary. The portfolio returns presented below do not reflect trading costs, transaction fees, or taxes, which can cause drag.

I was unable to perform a backtest as neither ETF had at least one full year of performance history available. However, I was able to pull their year-to-date performance to compare against the spot price of Bitcoin:

  • BTCX.B: -14.86%
  • BTCC.B: -14.94%
  • Bitcoin CAD: -16.24%
  • Bitcoin USD: -15.99%

Both BTCX.B and BTCC.B performed virtually identically. However, both underperformed the spot price of Bitcoin in both CAD and USD. I attribute this to tracking error from the constant turnover in both funds due to trading, changes in currency exchange rates, and management fees.

The Foolish takeaway

If I had to choose one ETF to buy and hold, it would be BTCC due to its much better AUM, despite the slightly higher MER. BTCC.B is best used for crypto exposure in a TFSA or RRSP. For other accounts, the adage of “not your keys, not your coins” generally applies, so consider an offline cold wallet in those cases.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Tony Dong has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Bitcoin.

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