After years of waiting for a US-based Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), the crypto community might finally get its hands on four mainstream financial products by the end of October.
This month, the Securities and Exchange Commission will yet again decide on a set of applications of Bitcoin ETFs. This time round, they all follow a format that SEC Chair Gary Gensler has suggested would be received favorably by the regulator.
The ETFs would hold Bitcoin futures instead of the asset itself, and are filed under the Investment Company Act of 1940 – which offers high investor protection in the world of traditional finance. After years of delays, the $6.7 trillion US ETF industry might finally be ready to join the party. During that time, dozens of crypto exchange-traded products launched in Canada and all over Europe.
This week, the regulator approved the Volt Crypto Industry Revolution and Tech ETF (ticket BTCR). The actively managed product plans to invest a majority of its assets into companies “with exposure to Bitcoin and its supporting infrastructure,” according to the prospectus.
Years have gone by since talk about a Bitcoin ETF surfaced among crypto advocates, and now, the community could get four in a matter of weeks.
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“We are pretty bullish on approval here,” said Bloomberg ETF analysts James Seyffart.
We just can’t see Gensler and the SEC going out of their way to state positive comments about a 1940-act Bitcoin futures ETF at the end of September and then denying all of them less than a month later.
“Given that ETF issuers have been tirelessly pursuing Bitcoin ETFs for over eight years now, it seems somewhat disingenuous for the SEC to encourage more filings at this point only to disapprove them,” said Nate Geraci, president of advisory firm the ETF Store.
Approving futures-based Bitcoin ETFs seems like an easy way for the SEC and Chair Gensler to get a ‘win’ in terms of appearing forward-thinking on crypto.
Provided the SEC does not discriminate between different filings and follows standard procedure, a product from ProShares could be among the first to get the nod of approval after having made the first futures-based filing, said BI’s Seyffart.
Valkyrie Investments also stands a good chance of getting approval, he said. Despite the filing being a week behind ProShares, the ETF would only hold BTC futures. By comparison, the ProShares application includes the ability for the fund to hold Bitcoin-related instruments.
At the start of October, there were nine Bitcoin futures applications en route to approval, according to BI, though two were filed under the 1933 act which allow the products to be listed on stock market exchanges. Another filing under the 1940 act proposes to hold a combination of crypto equities and Bitcoin futures. On Friday, crypto lending platfrom BlockFi submitted an application for a futures-based ETF that would also have exposure to short-duration fixed-income securities among other investments.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin founders of Gemini exchange, filed the first application for a Bitcoin ETF in 2013. Approval has remained out of the elusive for years amid so-called volatility concerns.
Still, not everyone is confident that the approval is finally at hand.
“The odds of approval in the next month are better than 50/50, but I would hardly be surprised if the SEC kicked this particular can down the road a few more times along with the physical Bitcoin ETF,” said Dave Nadig, chief investment officer at data-provider ETF Trends.
It’s clear that what’s needed is an actual regulatory plan. We have yet to get a hint that one is really forthcoming soon.
But with over a $1 trillion market cap, will the Securities and Exchange Commission continue to cede ground to its jurisdictional competitors, pushing itself into eventual obsolescence? Regardless of the outcome, its evidently clear that interest in Bitcoin investments is not going away, and capital inflows continue rise as the pioneering cryptocurrency reaches critical mass.
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