(Bloomberg) — The crisis in all things crypto looks set to claim another victim as the first-ever exchange-traded fund centered on nonfungible tokens prepares to liquidate.
The Defiance Digital Revolution ETF (ticker NFTZ), which launched at the end of 2021, will close at the end of February, according to a press release. The fund, which tracked blockchain-related companies and an NFT index, will start liquidating its portfolio on or about Feb. 16.
“The fund failed to attract assets,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and CIO at Defiance ETFs.
Its unwinding takes place as the hype over digital assets fizzles out dramatically as prices slump and investors no longer flock toward things like Bitcoin, decentralized finance, NFTs and other crypto-centric things that had gathered interest during the early pandemic years.
Interest in NFTs, which allows holders of art and collectibles to track ownership, surged during 2021 when cryptocurrencies were rallying. But a more hawkish Federal Reserve has created a severely prohibitive environment for speculative assets, leading to a plunge in digital-token prices. Bitcoin, the largest crypto by market value, is currently trading around $23,150, down from near $69,000 at the end of 2021.
NFTZ, which didn’t invest in cryptocurrencies directly, is closing out January with roughly $5.3 million in assets, compared with nearly $14 million at its height in March 2022, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Other crypto-related ETFs are also shuttering as the industry buckles in the wake of a number of scandals and bankruptcies. The implosion of the FTX empire left investors reeling and led to the downfall of some of the space’s most important players. Launches worldwide for exchange-traded products focused on digital assets have been slowing to a trickle.
“As you start to hit that crypto winter that we’re in, it makes sense that a lot of the investments that are based off of that entire segment are going to start drying up,” said Shawn Cruz, head trading strategist at TD Ameritrade. “You need some sort of baseline of investor interest into your ETF, fund, whatever it is — otherwise it’s not worth the headache of trying to keep it going. It just doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint.”