Bitcoin ETF Applications Pile Up as SEC Considers Options

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In Brief
  • Securities and Exchange Commission Head Gary Gensler weighs his options.

  • Gensler could be stalling on ETF approvals as a means of gaining more oversight on crypto exchanges.

  • Meanwhile, eager investors are seeking crypto exposure through other assets.

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Applications for bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETF) are piling up as new Securities and Exchange Commission Head Gary Gensler weighs his options.

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Last week, Gensler spoke before the House of Representatives subcommittee on financial services. During his testimony, he said, “there are many challenges and gaps for investor protection in [crypto] markets.” He also said that no cryptocurrency exchanges had yet registered as an exchange with the SEC.

So far, about a dozen bitcoin ETF applications are awaiting approval from the SEC. Firms that have submitted them including Fidelity, WisdomTree, Wilshire Phoenix, VanEck, and First Trust SkyBridge.

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Behind them are a small but growing amount of ethereum ETF applications, including those submitted by VanEck and WisdomTree in May.

The SEC has already rejected several bitcoin ETF applications and recently delayed deciding on another. Hours before its previous deadline on April 28, the SEC said its ruling on VanEck’s filing would come in June at the earliest.

Gensler’s strategy

Since Gensler previously taught a course on blockchain technology at MIT, many crypto enthusiasts were encouraged by his appointment.

However, since then, he has called for “greater investor protection” in bitcoin specifically. Additionally, the SEC’s division of investment management issued a warning to investors about crypto market risks. Both actions have left previous enthusiasts crestfallen.

Crypto alternatives to ETF

Meanwhile, the backlog in crypto ETF approvals has led eager investors to seek exposure to cryptocurrencies through other means.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce warned that in delaying its response, that this would be the outcome. Other such vehicles include crypto trusts offered by Grayscale or shares in Bitcoin-invested MicroStrategy.

Additionally, Canada just across the border, already approved a bitcoin ETF.

These crypto-based products have already unleashed more than a billion dollars in global inflows. Just earlier today, ETC Group launched a bitcoin exchange-traded product on an alternative exchange in London.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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