Spot Bitcoin ETF incoming? Outcomes investors may see from the SEC this week
Many expect the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to approve listing shares of a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) on exchanges for the first time by Jan. 10. Even if the regulator should move forward with a decision to approve, there are many possibilities to what approval may look like.
Deny, deny, deny
Despite all the positive signs pointing to approval, at the time of publication, there is no absolute guarantee that the SEC will still decide to give the green light to a spot Bitcoin ETF. Several asset managers completed some of the last stages of paperwork in filing Form 19b-4 amendments on Jan. 5 and amended Form S-1 filings on Jan. 8.
Historically, the SEC has never approved a spot cryptocurrency exchange-traded product for U.S. exchanges, and only in 2021 started to allow ETFs with exposure to crypto futures. An October court ruling forced the commission to revisit a spot Bitcoin ETF application from Grayscale Investments, but this would presumably still allow the SEC to deny an investment vehicle for different reasons.
Multiple simultaneous approvals
Many analysts have speculated that should the SEC move forward with at least one spot Bitcoin ETF application, more would likely follow. In this scenario, asset managers including Valkyrie, WisdomTree, BlackRock, VanEck, Invesco and Galaxy, Grayscale, Fidelity, Bitwise and Franklin Templeton could see approval on Jan. 10 as the SEC addresses the deadline for an ETF proposed by ARK Invest and 21Shares.
The firms with applications pending seem to be aware of this potential outcome. BlackRock reportedly plans to acquire $10 million worth of BTC as initial funding for its ETF, and companies seem to have gotten competitive in listing sponsor fees for their respective ETF offerings — e.g., 0.25% from ARK Invest and 0.24% from Bitwise.
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“If the BTC ETF gets approved, there might be significant increases in the infrastructure, meme coins, and application projects related to the BTC ecosystem,” said Juan Aranovich of Ryze Labs. “However, if the BTC ETF is not approved, the tokens of related ecosystem projects might experience even more severe declines.”
Some approved, some denied or deferred
Should the SEC approve some applications from asset managers but reject others, the reasoning provided would have to stand up to scrutiny. Given the similarities between applications, it’s unlikely that the commission could deny one based on concerns over investor protection and potential market manipulation — as it has previously stated — and approve another.
The commission faces a Jan. 10 final deadline for the ETF proposed by ARK Invest and 21Shares, but decisions on many others could be deferred until March and beyond, depending on the filing dates. Some experts have suggested this is an unlikely outcome but cannot offer 100% certainty that the SEC won’t do an about-face based on the filings over the last seven days.
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