There could soon be a new way to bet on the rise of blockchain

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Flickr/Raúl Hernández González

  • Nasdaq has teamed up with Reality Shares to launch an index tracking companies in the booming blockchain industry.
  • Blockchain, the technology underlying cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, has become a popular buzzword on Wall Street as the prices of digital coins and tokens continue to climb.

Exchange operator Nasdaq has teamed up with Reality Shares, an investment marketplace, to launch an index to track companies in the red-hot blockchain industry.

The smart-beta index called the Reality Shares Nasdaq Blockchain Economy Index, is planned to provide the basis for an exchange-traded fund by Reality Shares, according to a press release on the news out Monday.

The product has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Reality Shares.

Smart-beta products have been on the rise on Wall Street as investors seek out alternative investments that are more affordable than managed portfolios, but better-performing than passive index-tracking ETFs.

“The smart-beta approach targets factors, rather than individual stocks,” according to Cary Stier, the global investment management sector leader for Deloitte, the global consultancy and tax advisory firm.”They’re looking to profit off of momentum and volatility.”

Blockchain is best known for being the technology underlying cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, but it could have applications outside the market for digital coins. The market for such coins has exploded from $17 billion at the beginning of the year to over $204 billion at the time of print, according to CoinMarketCap.com.

As a decentralized ledger, blockchain can facilitate exchanges of assets without the need of a middle-man. As such, it has gripped the attention of Wall Street with companies such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley all participating in at least one blockchain consortium.

Nasdaq, for instance, announced a partnership with Citigroup on a blockchain-powered payment offering in May.

IBM has partnered with a slew of businesses, including Walmart and Maersk, to help track everything from food safety to mango shipments using blockchain technology.

Instead of every single party – manufacturer, shipper, buyer, and any other intermediary – all relying on their individual paperwork to track a shipment from beginning to end, a blockchain would allow all stakeholders to see every step in an open, secure ledger.

“As these new applications are deployed, we believe these companies will most likely become disrupters in their industries, with potential to profit at the expense of laggard companies that do not deploy blockchain applications,” said Eric Ervin, CEO of Reality Shares.