(Bloomberg) -- Ether is underperforming in the cryptocurrency market after the inaugural ETFs featuring futures for the second-biggest digital currency began trading in the US on Monday.

ProShares, VanEck and Bitwise, among others, launched exchange-traded funds based on the contracts to buy or sell the cryptocurrency at a specific date. About $15 million looks to have gone toward the funds, according to initial data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. Ether is down roughly 2% since Friday, trading around $1,640 as of 2:27 p.m. in New York. Bitcoin has risen by a similar amount over the same period.

“Any crypto-related launch tends to be a ‘buy the rumor, sell the news’ event,” said Eric Balchunas, a senior ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “If you look at BITO, Bitcoin went down a lot after that,” he said of the largest Bitcoin-futures based ETF. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens with futures ETFs either.”

The launches cap a years-long battle by firms to provide investment vehicles for Ether. On Monday, Ether futures ETFs saw around $2 million in flows. That was relatively muted compared to the fanfare that surrounded the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF — BITO — which launched in 2021 at the height of the crypto boom. BITO initially amassed $1 billion in assets in just two days, but flows slowed over time.

“It looks like they couldn’t find any investors to pony up some money before launching,” Balchunas said. “They just let nature run its course, and it looks like VanEck and ProShares now have pretty similar volumes.”

The new funds are part of a broader wave of cryptocurrency centric ETF applications submitted with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in recent months, with BlackRock Inc.’s June Bitcoin ETF filing being the most anticipated decision. The SEC previously did not allow such funds to trade, as regulators have been hesitant to green-light these types of products. 

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“The holy grail is the spot Bitcoin ETF,” Balchunas said. “This is Ether and futures. They’re like the opening band that nobody’s heard of.”

Crypto-based products have, overall, struggled to generate much investor interest this year. The SEC is embroiled in several crypto-related lawsuit and has said a number of tokens are securities.  

“There could be downside ahead should the agency go on the offensive,” said Noelle Acheson, author of the “Crypto Is Macro Now” newsletter. “This is especially risky given the declining liquidity,” she added, referring to dried-up liquidity in crypto markets. It doesn’t help that there continues to be general macro uncertainty, dampening appetite for risk assets, she said. 

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However, Balchunas said that the launch of Ether-futures funds could still be seen as a positive development in the long-run.

“Any ETF that is crypto-related should be viewed as a bridge to the advisory wealth management world,” Balchunas said. “These bridges will facilitate traffic in the long term, and overall, are a good thing for the underlying assets.”

--With assistance from Vildana Hajric.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.