Sberbank Launches Russia's First Blockchain-Focused ETF

Russia’s largest bank is launching the country’s first blockchain-focused exchange-traded fund.

Sberbank Launches Russia's First Blockchain-Focused ETF
Shutterstock image by Evgeniy Vasilev

Key Takeaways

  • Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, has announced the country's first blockchain-focused ETF.
  • The Sberbank Blockchain Economy ETF will track the performance of major blockchain companies, including Coinbase, Galaxy Digital, and others.
  • The fund is set to trade on the Russian stock exchange under the ticker SBBE at a starting cost of 10 rubles ($0.13) per share.

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Sber Asset Management, the investments arm of Russia’s largest bank, has announced the launch of the first blockchain-themed exchange-traded fund in the country.

Sber Announces “Sberbank – Blockchain Economy” ETF

According to Sber’s Thursday press release, the company’s blockchain-focused ETF, dubbed “Sberbank – Blockchain Economy,” will track the identically named index developed by the bank’s asset management subsidiary SberCIB.

The fund will provide Russian investors with exposure to a diversified portfolio of major blockchain companies, including Coinbase, Galaxy Digital, Digindex, and others. It will also track the performance of crypto mining companies and firms providing consulting services in the blockchain industry.

According to the announcement, Sber’s ETF will be the first product in the country to give investors broad exposure to the blockchain sector “without the difficulties associated with the direct development, purchase, storage, and sale of digital assets.”

“Direct investments in crypto assets are associated with high risks, so it’s difficult to deal with them on your own. Therefore, we offer to invest not in crypto assets but rather in firms focused on the development of blockchain technologies,” said Sber Asset Management CEO Evgeny Zaitsev.

The Russian authorities have been vocal in their stance against cryptocurrencies, arguing that the asset class can be used for financing terrorism and money laundering. In December, the country’s central bank issued a directive banning mutual funds from investing directly in cryptocurrencies.

Sberbank’s ETF, however, will not fall under the Bank of Russia’s restrictions because it will not invest directly in cryptocurrencies but rather only in stocks of major blockchain-related companies. It will begin trading on the Russian stock exchange under the ticker SBBE at a starting cost per share of 10 rubles ($0.13).

In general, crypto-focused ETFs have seen immense interest from institutional investors globally. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has approved three Bitcoin futures ETFs, but rejected all applications for spot or physical Bitcoin ETFs so far. Other countries, however, have had a more positive stance towards exchange-traded products that invest directly in Bitcoin or other digital currencies. Canada, for example, has approved several such products, including Fidelity’s spot Bitcoin ETF in December.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this feature owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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