But the arrival of the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF – an exchange-traded fund developed by twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss – will change that.
While there are two other Bitcoin funds – Bitcoin Investment Trust, by SecondMarket, and a hedge fund, Pantera Bitcoin Advisers LLC, by Pantera Capital – both are open to wealthy investors only.
When the Winklevoss twins filed to register their Bitcoin ETF last year, they said the purpose was to make Bitcoin investing available to anyone with a brokerage account.
"The Trust brings Bitcoin to Main Street and mainstream investors to Bitcoin," Tyler Winklevoss told The New York Times. "It eliminates the friction of buying and reduces the risks associated with storing Bitcoin while offering similar investment attributes to direct ownership."
Here's how the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust would work…
A Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF Makes Sense
The Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF would work in a similar way to commodity-based ETFs like those for gold and silver, with the Trust buying the bitcoins to back the ETF shares. The filing proposed that the Trust would purchase one bitcoin for every five shares of the ETF.
Daily transactions would go through a regulated trading desk. The Winklevoss twins say they have a proprietary method for storing the bitcoins to prevent thieves from hacking into their system and stealing them.
Since being filed last July, the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF, officially known as the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, has been under review by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
But it keeps inching closer to approval.
Just this week, the lawyer who drafted the proposal for the Bitcoin ETF, Kathleen H. Moriarty, a partner at Chicago-based law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, told Bloomberg News that the process is "progressing nicely and [approval] might occur at the end of 2014."
And the approval of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust – which appears to be a question of when, not if – should be on the radar of every investor, because of what will happen after it goes live…