Spot Bitcoin ETF vs Futures Bitcoin ETF: Key Differences

As Bitcoin gains more popularity, it’s not only recognized as a global investment choice but is also integrated into Exchange-Traded Funds or ETFs. Despite this widespread use, terms like Futures and Spot Bitcoin ETF might not be familiar to everyone, causing a bit of confusion.

Now, in this article, we’ll break down the basics of Exchange-Traded Funds, discuss their pros and cons, and explore the main differences between Spot and Futures Bitcoin ETF.

Understanding the Basics of ETFs

An Exchange-Traded Fund or ETF is like a stock that everyone can buy or sell on the stock market. Unlike mutual funds, its mechanism changes prices throughout the day as they are actively traded on the market, thus providing a cost-effective and easily accessible investment option.

The mechanism of an ETF involves holding a mix of assets like stocks, bonds, or other commodities, making it a popular choice for diversifying investments.

As marketable securities, it has a stock price, making them easy to buy or sell quickly on the exchange. 

For example, in the U.S., most funds operate as open-end, allowing many investors to participate in the trade.

Pros and Cons

ETFs also have several advantages and disadvantages that need to be known beforehand.


  • Efficiency: ETFs offer a cost-effective investment option as they provide a way for investors to access a diversified portfolio.
  • Diversification and Risk Management: Exchange-Traded Funds also facilitate risk management through diversification across various industries.
  • Low Expense Ratios: The expense ratio of an ETF, representing the operational and managerial costs is low. This is attributed to the passive management style which tracks a specific index. 


  • Liquidity Challenges: Some ETFs may face liquidity issues, hindering the ease with which investors can trade, lack of liquidity will lead to wider bid-ask spreads and thus increased trading costs.
  • Limited Diversification: An Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) that focuses on a single industry or sector may restrict diversification opportunities for investors and elevate the level of risk.
  • High Fees for Actively Managed ETFs: While many traded funds are passively managed and incur low expenses, actively managed ETFs, which involve a more hands-on approach from fund managers, may have higher fees. 

What are Bitcoin ETFs?

After understanding the fundamentals, let’s explore the Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). A Bitcoin ETF is a type of fund typically traded on a specific exchange, designed to track the price movements of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin ETFs can track the price of Bitcoin directly (“Spot Bitcoin ETF”) or through futures contracts (“Futures Bitcoin ETF”).

These funds allow investors to gain exposure to the crypto market without the need to directly own and store the assets personally. 

Additionally, this type of fund can be traded on exchanges like regular stocks, making buying and selling convenient.

Furthermore, institutional and individual investors can access the crypto market more easily and securely through stock exchanges that have advanced infrastructure and regulations.

In essence, there are two main types of ETFs:

Spot Bitcoin ETF

Spot Bitcoin ETF is a specialized type of Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) designed to directly monitor the price fluctuations of Bitcoin in the spot market. 

This variant grants investors the ability to observe the current Bitcoin price. The investment fund engages in buying and selling at the prevailing market rates, reflecting real-time changes in the spot market value.

This approach allows investors to capitalize on price movements without the necessity of executing transactions on cryptocurrency exchanges. 

Spot Bitcoin ETF offers a solution for investors desiring involvement in price dynamics without grappling with the complexities of physical ownership, such as storage and technical administration.

Futures Bitcoin ETF

Futures Bitcoin ETF is an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) designed to monitor Bitcoin price fluctuations through futures contracts, as opposed to the current spot market prices. These contracts involve agreements to buy or sell Bitcoin at a predetermined price in the future.

This investment fund is typically not directly utilized to acquire Bitcoin at the present rate. Instead, the purchasing method involves engaging in futures contracts with predetermined prices for a specific future timeframe.

The performance of these contracts reflects changes in prices within the futures contracts traded on exchanges like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

Futures Bitcoin ETF offers the ability to enable investors to speculate on future Bitcoin price movements without the necessity of direct ownership.

Differences Between Futures and Spot Bitcoin ETFs

Fundamentally, the basic concept of both is quite similar, allowing investors to access the crypto market without the need to directly own the assets. 

However, several key differences between Futures Bitcoin ETF and Spot Bitcoin ETF should be known beforehand.

Price Movements

  • Futures Bitcoin ETF: Futures track Bitcoin prices through futures contracts, usually with predetermined prices for a timeframe.
  • Spot Bitcoin ETF: Spot ETF, on the other hand, tracks prices in real-time from the spot market, with prices set directly without the need to wait.


  • Futures Bitcoin ETF: Performance in futures is typically influenced by changes in Bitcoin futures contracts, and futures markets tend to have higher volatility.
  • Spot Bitcoin ETF: Spot reflects real-time movements in Bitcoin prices at that moment. This type of volatility is generally lower as it follows the more stable spot market prices.

Access and Timing

  • Futures Bitcoin ETF: Investors or traders in futures markets may need to wait for the predetermined future timeframe to realize gains or losses, making timing crucial.
  • Spot Bitcoin ETF: Spot ETF allows immediate market access, enabling investors to buy or sell at the current moment, and providing a more real-time approach to market movements.

Investment Type

  • Futures Bitcoin ETF: This type of ETF investment involves investing in futures contracts that use Bitcoin. Investors typically speculate on future changes in Bitcoin prices.
  • Spot Bitcoin ETF: Spot ETF involves a direct investment with Bitcoin or related assets that hold value at that moment.

Which One Is Better?

Both choices have their advantages and disadvantages. The better option depends on the specific investment goals of the individual.

Spot Bitcoin ETF is more suitable for those seeking lower risk because it provides instant access to the current price. The risk of price changes is lower since it follows stable and real-time spot market prices.

On the other hand, Futures Bitcoin ETF offers an opportunity for higher profits by predicting future Bitcoin price movements. However, it comes with the downside of potentially more ups and downs in futures markets compared to the spot market, thereby implying increased risks.

In the end, determining which one is better between Spot Bitcoin ETF and Futures Bitcoin ETF will depend on the preferences of each individual.

Personal Note From MEXC Team

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