I think the tax advantage of the SIPP means it represents very good value, and fair play to HL for allowing investors to make their own decisions even if it does mean they are facilitating the holding of a wildly volatile asset for what should be considered retirement income. A rare example of common sense prevailing. Even in a GIA you could justify the expense for the convenience - we’ve spoken before about how difficult it is to retain your own private keys and trust yourself not to mess it up!
Certainly food for thought, and the wider variety of adoption methods out there the more legitimacy it inevitably gains. I’m very interested to see how it plays out because I personally see the existing ETF / ETN infrastructure as appropriate for most passive investment needs (in the same way it is for gold). It then becomes a question of what do customers actually want - to speculate or spend? It’s not clear we’ve arrived at the latter yet.
This is correct and I cite the perceived lack of enthusiasm to be on account of it not being a domestic American product, as @anon2636484 has pointed out. There is technically a difference in the risk profile in that a fund’s assets are indirectly owned by the investors, whereas a note’s investors have a debt obligation against the issuer. As such, the latter attracts counterparty risk because of the possibility of default. As you say, in this case it is immaterial given the physical replication, which is auditable.
Interesting in this regard is the case of GBTC (an American bitcoin tracker reserved for accredited investors and institutions). Historically it has always traded at a massive premium due to it being the only US issuer of an instrument that legitimately tracks bitcoin in lieu of anything exchange-traded or more adoption friendly. Its premium has fallen markedly in the last week or so and I expect it will continue to do so now that XBT Provider is being marketed in the States. This is a solid indicator that the note is fit for purpose, but invariably some will wait for the SEC to green light a domestic fund.