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The first Bitcoin-linked ETF is about to start trading. Here’s what to know

October 18, 2021, 2:35 PM UTC

After finally getting a green light from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) will make its debut on Wall Street Tuesday, giving people another way to invest in the cryptocurrency market.

ProShares, which got a sign-off from the SEC Friday, announced Monday morning that the ETF will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BITO.

“We believe a multitude of investors have been eagerly awaiting the launch of a Bitcoin-linked ETF after years of efforts to launch one,” said ProShares CEO Michael L. Sapir in a statement. “BITO will open up exposure to Bitcoin to a large segment of investors who have a brokerage account and are comfortable buying stocks and ETFs, but do not desire to go through the hassle and learning curve of establishing another account with a cryptocurrency provider and creating a Bitcoin wallet or are concerned that these providers may be unregulated and subject to security risks.”

The ProShares ETF is being called “Bitcoin-linked,” as it will invest primarily in Bitcoin futures contracts and not directly in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin, though, has been rallying as investors have anticipated the SEC allowing ETFs built around the cryptocurrency. (It’s up 2% as of 10:15 a.m. ET on Monday to $62,000.) Other companies that are expected to launch their own offerings in the coming days, weeks, and months (pending SEC approval or lack of intervention) include Valkyrie, Invesco, and VanEck.

Asset managers have been trying to get a Bitcoin ETF approved since 2017, but have regularly been stopped by the SEC. Former chair Jay Clayton was against the investment vehicles, saying none could show resistance to market manipulation. Gary Gensler, current head of the SEC, has been more open to cryptocurrency futures investing, which is where the current batch of applicants, including ProShares, have focused.

Companies are hopeful that if futures-focused Bitcoin ETFs go well, that could make the SEC more open to an ETF that invests directly in Bitcoin going forward.

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