Winklevoss twins file for Bitcoin IPO

Summary:The siblings that fought Facebook and lost have turned their sights to an IPO of a trust that will track the value of Bitcoins.

The Winklevoss twins have filed an IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow for regular stock market investors to treat Bitcoins as commodities.

The body, called Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, will issue 1 million shares, with each share having the value of 0.20 Bitcoins. The initial price per share in the filing is stated at US$20.09, giving the IPO a valuation of just over US$20 million.

"The investment objective of the trust is for the shares to reflect the performance of a weighted average price of Bitcoins," said the filing. "The sponsor believes that, for many investors, the shares will represent a cost-effective and convenient means to access exposure to Bitcoins."

Given the relatively late entrance of Bitcoins into mainstream financial consciousness, and the lack of legislation and regulation from any body dealing with Bitcoins, the trust took the decision to treat Bitcoins like commodities.

"On balance, the important features of Bitcoins and other Digital Math-Based Assets are those that are characteristics of commodities, and therefore has referred to and discussed these assets as such.

"It is not known whether US or foreign regulators will share this view, adopt a single, different view, or espouse a variety of differing views; this regulatory uncertainty creates risks for the trust and its shares."

This is far from the only risk to potential shareholders, with the filing containing a laundry list of risks and issues associated with owning shares in the trust.

Among the most damaging risks cited would be the loss or destruction of the private key to access the Trust's Bitcoins, an action that could be irreversible in the trust's view, as well as an attack on the proprietary "Security System" that would be housed in the US, and used to store the trust's assets.

The filing also highlights issues with the Bitcoin network itself, from the unlikely example of one body gaining over 50 percent of the network's processing power to the diminishing incentive for Bitcoin users to continue mining coins in the future, to the fact that widespread adoption of Bitcoin by retailers has yet to occur and the Bitcoin market is largely populated by speculators, which could lead to reduced Bitcoin price.

The document as it currently stands is incomplete, and does not list the date of any IPO, nor the exchange that the trust would be listed on.

Sponsoring the trust is the Winklevoss' Math-Based Asset Services company, which lists Cameron Winklevoss as CEO and Tyler Winklevoss as CFO.

The Winklevoss twins came to prominence after a long-running legal saga with Facebook, which stemmed from the twins' claim that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from his former Harvard classmates.

The four-year old Bitcoin's price peaked earlier this year at US$266, but is currently trading on Mt Gox at a touch over US$90 at the time of writing.

Topics: Banking, Government, Security

About

Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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