Bitcoin ETF’s Future Uncertain as SEC Set to Rule on Key Filings

Bitcoin ETF
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Bitcoin ETF applications are facing a pivotal moment, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) slated to respond to several key filings right before the upcoming Labor Day weekend. 

Financial giants BlackRock, VanEck, Invesco, Bitwise, and WisdomTree all await the regulator’s response, which could come as early as this Friday for Bitwise and the following day for the others. The choices before the SEC include either approval, rejection, or further delay. The SEC’s decision holds significant implications for the integration of digital assets with traditional financial markets.

SEC’s Track Record

Historically, the SEC has exhibited a pattern of deferring decisions related to cryptocurrency. In early August, for instance, the commission postponed its verdict on 21Shares’ spot-Bitcoin application in collaboration with ARK Investment Management. Over the past decade, several applications faced rejection.

Last year, the SEC rejected an effort by Grayscale Investments to transform its Bitcoin trust into an ETF. Citing concerns over market manipulation and fraud, the regulator declined the application. In response, Grayscale filed a lawsuit, asking the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision, contending that it was inconsistent and discriminatory, especially since the SEC had previously greenlit ETFs tracking Bitcoin futures.

Experts in the financial sector have expressed limited optimism for immediate approvals. Roxanna Islam from VettaFi commented on the matter to Bloomberg, explaining that it wouldn’t be surprising to witness further delays from the SEC.

“We can expect to see more delays from the SEC especially after they already delayed their decision earlier this month on ARK’s spot-Bitcoin ETF filing,” she said. “We need to see a decision from the SEC on Grayscale’s lawsuit first — otherwise, we might see them approve Ether-futures ETF filings before they approve any spot-Bitcoin ETF filings.

The Community’s Perspective

The appeal of a spot-Bitcoin ETF has persisted within the crypto sector for an extended period. Advocates believe that such an ETF would not only simplify the process for average investors but also align digital assets more closely with conventional financial systems.

Regulatory bodies have repeatedly expressed concerns about potential deceit and irregularities, however. An important instance from the past is the SEC’s denial of Gemini’s 2013 application for a physically-backed Bitcoin ETF. This proposal, initiated by the Winklevoss twins, set a precedent as numerous subsequent attempts by different entities also met with rejection.

Elliott Stein, senior litigation analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence shared his insights.

“To the extent the SEC can delay its decisions, I think it will until there’s a court ruling in Grayscale,” he said.

BlackRock’s Endeavor

June witnessed BlackRock Inc. escalating the competition for a spot-Bitcoin ETF with its application. Given BlackRock’s history of successfully launching ETFs, some analysts believe that current applications, including BlackRock’s, might possess a heightened likelihood of acceptance.

In parallel, the enthusiasm surrounding a potential fund has inspired various firms to venture into Bitcoin ETFs and even more intricate financial products. Several have presented proposals for Ether-futures or combined Bitcoin-and-Ether-futures funds. 

There’s a prevailing sentiment that the SEC might approve the commencement of Ether-futures trading in October, marking a significant milestone for the industry.

As the Labor Day weekend approaches, anticipation is building around the SEC’s impending decisions on Bitcoin ETF applications from industry giants. While past behavior suggests that immediate approvals are unlikely, the outcomes could provide crucial insights into the regulator’s evolving stance on digital assets. 


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