Jim Bianco Criticises Bitcoin ETFs, Arguing They Undermine Decentralisation Efforts

By Aaron Feuerstein February 22, 2024 In Bitcoin, ETFs
  • Well-known analyst Jim Bianco has expressed concerns over the recent Spot Bitcoin ETFs
  • He believes the centralisation (ETFs) of a supposed decentralised asset (BTC) is incompatible.
  • The president of Bianco Research laments that people are more interested in ‘number go up’ than in actually building a new financial system.

Oh my, Jim what have you done? Jim Bianco, well-known in the financial world as the President and Macro Strategist at Bianco Research, L.L.C., has just made himself a target for Crypto Twitter. Bianco sent out a series of tweets (or posts rather, as they are now known) criticising the Spot Bitcoin ETFs.

Bianco’s Well… Controversial Views

To say he created a stir amongst hardcore enthusiasts is an understatement. One thing first though, it’s worth listening to Jim’s nuanced elaborations—after all he is not speaking out against Bitcoin or crypto, rather against the mixing of the sector with trad-fi (traditional finance) and the ‘number go up narrative.’

Back to the start though—what did Jim Bianco say? Bianco spoke to Bloomberg TV hosts Katie Greifeld and Eric Balchunas, whom you may know from our extensive reporting on the Spot Bitcoin ETFs as the Senior Bloomberg ETF Analyst.

Bianco suggested that large, centralised Bitcoin owners, such as those behind Spot Bitcoin ETFs, have a form of suggestive power over the network’s direction.


Bianco frames the acceptance of centralised ownership through Bitcoin ETFs as a trade-off that risks the core ethos of decentralisation in exchange for broader market access and liquidity. He posits that this is not inherently beneficial for the Bitcoin ecosystem, introducing a risk that may not be worth taking.

You’re centralizing the ownership of a decentralized asset. And I just think that’s incompatible in the long run if you believe the mission of cryptocurrencies [is] to try and create an alternative financial system.

Jim Bianco

An Alternative Financial System

But Bianco has a point here—while miners have the technical ability to accept or reject changes, the financial influence and priorities of these large holders can sway the network indirectly by threatening the value of Bitcoin through potential divestment.

He raises an essential debate on the balance between expanding Bitcoin’s accessibility and preserving its foundational principles.

Balchunas argued that ETFs offer investors an optimal solution by closely tracking the NAV (Net Asset Value) at a low cost, thus providing broad access to Bitcoin for those preferring not to directly hold the asset.

Bianco explained that his quarrel is not with investors but rather with the cheer coming from the industry itself, adding that crypto was supposed to be building an alternative financial system—not becoming a part of the old system.

Crypto is supposed to build an alternative financial system. It is supposed to be something different. It’s supposed to be decentralized. It’s not there, but it can be there. If it gets development, it gets more coders, it gets more VC money into it to build out that system.

Jim Bianco

Number Go Up Narrative

He argues that while the introduction of ETFs might drive up the price of cryptocurrencies, this approach could potentially detract from meaningful investments in development and innovation within the space.

Bianco is concerned that investors might prefer the simplicity of investing in ETFs like IBIT, rather than contributing to ventures that could foster the system’s growth through coding and venture capital.

Essentially, he fears this trend could stifle progress, as the community might shift its focus to merely cheering for price increases rather than building sustainable value. Bianco said he wants price appreciation driven by genuine development and innovation, not just speculative investment in ETFs aiming for short-term gains.

Aaron Feuerstein

Aaron Feuerstein

Aaron Feuerstein is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. His focus is on decentralised finance and the regulatory space surrounding blockchain. He holds a Master's in Accounting. When he is not studying the latest legal case, he enjoys his time as a modest but eager hobby cook.

You may also like