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How-to & FAQ for holding Bitcoin and Ethereum in an RRSP/TFSA
A few months ago I came across a way to hold crypto in my RRSP/TFSA and have been answering questions about how to do that in comments, DM's, and Skype consults. I figured it would be helpful to put together one big comprehensive FAQ. Cryptocurrency is treated as a commodity by the CRA and you must pay capital gains taxes on any profits if held outside a TFSA. If bitcoin goes to $1m as some are predicting, the Canadian government is going to be taxing a huge windfall in capital gains taxes. BACKGROUND Bitcoin & other crypto cannot be held directly in a RRSP/TFSA, and there are no eligible ETF's in North America yet. However, the ETN COINXBT which trades on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in Sweden (Nasdaq Stockholm) is eligible. ABOUT COINXBT COINXBT holds bitcoin directly and its price per share is based on a 0.005 multiple of the current bitcoin price. For example, if the current price of bitcoin is $10000USD, a share of COINXBT will be worth $50USD (ie: $493 Swedish Kroner) Company's website and full prospectus at: https://xbtprovider.com/ Price quote / chart: https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/COINXBT:SS HOW-TO TRADE Only some Canadian brokerages allow you to trade on eligible international exchanges in your TFSA. Some do not. Typically placing trades on international exchanges online is not an option and must be made over the phone broker-assisted at a much higher cost than typical North American securities. CANADIAN BROKERS I've called pretty much every brokerage to inquire if international securities can be held in a TFSA and what the fee is to transact. You may want to call yourself to see if policies have changed, but here's a summary:
National Bank: $75 per trade + $0.06 per share (confirmed works)
TD: Fee dependent on amount traded. Up to $5K is $187, $80K would be $520 per trade (confirmed works)
CIBC: $250 minimum, based on trade amount. $50K would be about $350 to buy and $350 to sell (confirmed works)
Scotia iTrade: $250 CAD per trade CAD, unlimited shares & order size (should work)
BMO Investorline: Fee-based on total trade amount. $50K would be $325 to buy $225 to sell, $50-$60K would be $350 to buy $240 to sell (should work)
Not available, or not available in RRSP/TFSA:
Interactive Brokers, can trade it, but not in RRSP/TFSA
HSBC (has access to almost every exchange other than Stockholm)
FAQ's Are you sure it's legal? I'm quite sure it's illegal.
I used National Bank Direct Brokerage. The fee's came out to $75 per trade + $0.06 per share. For example, the commission for a trade I did for 885 shares of COINXBT was $75 + $53.10 for a total of $128.10. Canadian funds were used to make the purchase and there were no forex fees for converting to Swedish Kroner (SEK)
How do I make a trade once I'm ready?
Call your brokerage and say you want to place a trade on the Stockholm stock exchange. You may be forwarded to a person that specializes in that, and eventually to a broker that deals with placing order on international exchanges. Tell them the symbol to trade is COINXBT and the name of the ETN is "Bitcoin Tracker One".
How do I calculate the number of shares to trade to max out my TFSA?
The price of COINXBT is in SEK. In my case using NB I took my balance minus anticipated fees divided by the current price to see how many shares I could buy. For example: For a $10,000 TFSA, current COINXBT price = $554.77SEK (84.27CAD), would be 117 shares at a cost of $9859.59 + $82.02 commission for a total of $9941.61CAD
Market or Limit order?
The first time I placed an order for COINXBT I tried to place a limit order a little below the market price. Over the next week the price of bitcoin ran up a lot and didn't come down. I ended up buying a lot higher. Since then I've been placing limit orders slightly above the current price or just market orders so that they go through right away. I've had no issues doing it either way.
When can I trade? Is it only possible to make the trade while the Swedish market is open and the TSX are open at the same time? Or can you place the order at any time of day?
XBT Provider has said they will monitor forks for 3-months and then decide what action to take. In the case of Bitcoin Cash, they sold the forked coins and distributed it as a dividend to anyone that held ETN shares on the fork date.
What about other cryptocurrencies?
An ethereum ETN was recently launched: COINETH that also trades on the Stockholm exchange. https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/COINETH:SS Other than that, I am not aware of any other eligible crypto securities that can be held in a RRSP/TFSA
How is the price of COINXBT determined?
It's based on the average price of the top 3 exchanges
Why not just buy GBTC?
GBTC is traded on the OTC exchange in the US and is not RRSP/TFSA eligible
Why can't I place a trade online myself?
For now, there are no crypto ETF's on North American exchanges. They have been in the works for years in the US, but no approvals yet. Evolve funds recently said they plan to launch a Canadian Bitcoin ETF. Trading COINXBT is a bit of a hassle, but you're getting in ahead of everyone else that are not willing to put in the time/effort. Once the Canadian/US ETF launches, it will probably be worth it to sell COINXBT and switch to the North American one which should be easy to trade online just like other ETF's.
Feedback If you've managed to get crypto into your RRSP/TFSA in any other ways than listed above please do leave a comment and I'll update the post. Thanks!
ECN. Used most by professional traders. Difficult platform for beginners
Minimum deposit $10000 (or $3,000 if under 25yo) * Well diversified -Oanda
Market maker. Second largest retail FX brokerage in the US. Easy platform for beginners.
No minimum deposit
Not well diversified, but well capitalized -Gain Capital (whitelabel forex.com) *Market Maker *Fair spreads *Minimum deposit $250 *Well diversified -FXCM Inc
ECN. Largest retail FX brokerage in the US
Minimum deposit $2000
Not well diversified. CAUTION: FXCM nearly went bankrupt in Jan-2015 due to a lack of diversification and low capitalisation. As a result FXCM LLC was bailed out with a large loan which may prove difficult to pay back. Be warned that their business may not be sustainable in the long term. -MBTrading
ECN. Mid-sized retail FX brokerage
Minimum deposit $400
International Only- -LMAX (whitelabel DarwinEx) *DMA broker based in the UK. Note that as a DMA broker LMAX eliminates the ability for LPs to last-look transactions. This may result in reduced liquidity during volatile times as liquidity providers would be likely not to risk posting liquidity to LMAX's pool. *Tight spreads *Minimum deposit $10,000 *Fairly well diversified -Dukascopy *ECN based in Switzerland, but available elsewhere depending on local regulations. *Tight spreads *Minimum deposit $100 *Fairly well diversified -IC Markets *ECN based in Australia *Fair spreads on standard account, tight spreads on professional accounts. *Minimum deposit $200 *Fairly well diversified -Pepperstone *ECN broker based in Australia. *Fair spreads on standard account, tight spreads on professional accounts. *Minimum deposit $200 *Not well diversified Software / Apps: Desktop/mobile
Apps are typically broker dependent. Some brokers have their own proprietary software, while others lease common software like Metatrader or NinjaTrader. Some software has a large development community for indicators and EAs.
Terminology/Acronyms: www.forexlive.com/ForexJargon - Common terms and acronyms FAQ: I need to exchange money, how do I do it? This isn’t what this sub is for. Your best bet is using your bank or an online exchange service. Be prepared to pay a hefty fee. I have money in one currency and need to exchange it into another sometime in the future, should I wait? Don’t ask us this. We speculate intraday in FX and shouldn’t be relied on to tell you what’s best for you. Exchange the money when you need it. I have an FX account, should I start trading demo or live? This is highly debatable. You should definitely demo trade until you have mastered how to use the trading platform on desktop and mobile. After that it’s up to you. Many think that the psychology of trading live vs demo trading is massively different. So it may pay to learn to trade live. Just be warned that most FX traders lose almost their entire first account so start with a low affordable balance. What’s money management? Money management is a form of risk management and is arguably the most important aspect of your trading when it comes to long term survival. You should always enter trades with a stop loss - the distance of the stop allows you to calculate how large of a percent of your account balance will be lost if your trade stops out. You can run a monte carlo simulation to figure out the risk of having a number of trades go against you in a row to drain your account. The general rule is that you should only risk losing 1-4% of your account per trade entered. More on this here: www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/06/fxmoneymgmt.asp www.swing-trade-stocks.com/money-management.html What about automated trading? Retail FX traders have been known to program “Expert Advisors” (EAs) to automate trading. It’s generally advisable to stay away from that until you’re very experienced. Never buy an EA from a developer because the vast majority of them are scams. What indicators are best? That’s up to you to test and find out. Many in this forum dislike oscillating indicators since they fail to capture the essence of what moves price. With experience you will discover what works best for you. In my experience indicators that are most popular with professional traders are those that provide trading “levels” such as pivot points, fibonacci, moving averages, trendlines, etc. What timeframe should I trade? Price action can vary in different timeframes. In longer term timeframes the price action and fundamentals are much more clear. Unfortunately it would take a very long time to figure out whether or not what you’re doing is successful on longer timeframes. In shorter timeframes you can often tell very quickly if what you’re doing is profitable. Unfortunately there’s a lot more “noise” on these levels which can prove deceptive for those trying to learn. Therefore the best bet is to use a multi-timeframe analysis, working from top-down to come up with trades. Should I trade using fundamental analysis (FA) of technical analysis (TA)? This is a long standing argument in these forums and elsewhere. I’ll settle it here - you should have an understanding of both. Yes there are traders who blindly ignore one of the other but a truly well rounded trader should understand and implement both into the analysis. The market is driven in the longer term through FA. But TA is necessary to give traders a place to enter and exit trades from a psychological risk/reward standpoint. I’ve heard trading Binary Options is an easy way to make money? The general advice is to stay away from binaries. The structure of binary options is so that when you lose the broker wins. This incentive has created a very scammy industry where there are few legitimate binary options brokers. In addition in order to be profitable in binaries you have to win 55-65% of the time. That’s a much higher premium over spot FX. Am I actually exchanging currencies? Yes and no. Your broker handles spot FX is currency pairs. Although they make an exchange at the settlement date they treat your position in your account as a virtual currency pair. Think of it like a contract where you can only buy or sell it as a pair. In this sense you are always long one currency while short another. You are merely speculating that one currency will appreciate or depreciate vs another. Why didn't my order fill? Even if price appears to cross over a line on your chart it does not guarantee a fill. Different charting platforms chart different prices - some chart the bid price, some the ask price and some the midpoint price. To fill a limit order price needs to cross your limit's price plus the spread at the time that it is crossing. If it does not equal or exceed the spread then it will not fill. Be wary that in general spreads are not fixed. So what may fill at one time may not at another.
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