Ethereum Rebound Could Spark This Fintech ETF

Cryptocurrencies large and small stumbled last week, weighing on fintech exchange traded funds, including the ARK Fintech Innovation ETF (NYSEARCA: ARKF), in the process.

The actively managed ARKF doesn’t directly own bitcoin or digital assets, but the fund is nonetheless levered to the crypto ecosystem, perhaps more so than competing strategies. Should Ethereum, the blockchain network that serves as the foundation for the second-largest digital token, resume its bullishness, ARKF could follow suit.

“A month ago, Ethereum’s network underwent a major technical upgrade, known as the London Hard Fork,” reports Daren Fonda for Barron’s. “The upgrade involved several new protocols aimed at improving the network’s transaction-processing speed and robustness. One of the biggest changes will slow the growth of Ethereum tokens, which are doled out as rewards, or payments, to computer operators that validate transactions.”

Some analysts are bullish on Ethereum’s London Hard Fork, and not just by way of its implications for the digital token. JPMorgan analyst Kenneth Worthington sees potential benefits for Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) and Robinhood (NASDAQ:HOOD).

“We see this transition as not only a significant milestone for Ethereum, but also for staking broadly and the cryptocurrency ecosystem,” said Worthington in a note out Friday. “It creates a significant revenue opportunity for exchanges like Coinbase and could also be meaningful for brokers like Robinhood.”

Crypto exchange operator Coinbase is ARKF’s fourth-largest holding at a weight of 5.11%. Newly public Robinhood is one of the ARK fund’s smaller components. Token-staking, which could be enhanced via the new Ethereum protocols, is another situation to monitor because it could be a revenue booster for Coinbase and rival operators.

“Staking is turning into a big revenue opportunity for both for exchanges and crypto investors. Exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken allow customers to stake their tokens–essentially pledging them to the network for a period in exchange for a yield. Investors can stake Ethereum on Coinbase for a 5% annual yield,” according to Barron’s.

While the concept of token-staking is drawing the ire of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a recent war of words between the commission and Coinbase confirms, the strategy is likely appealing to long-term crypto investors. Digital assets typically don’t offer dividends or interest payments, and with bond yields depressed today, generating some yield on an asset like Ethereum is appealing because there’s obvious growth potential.

That could be a win for Coinbase and Robinhood, the latter of which offers crypto and equities trading, because more investors seeking yield from token-staking will create more revenue via commissions for crypto brokerage firms.

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The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.