SEC launches proceedings to determine fate of spot Bitcoin ETFs, invites public comment
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) submitted several filings on Sept. 28 that concern pending spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Those filings act as orders that institute proceedings through which the SEC will determine whether to approve or reject proposed rule changes. If these rule changes are approved, it could pave the way for spot Bitcoin ETFs to commence trading on commodities exchanges.
The SEC seeks comments on various matters through its latest filings. The first section largely asks commenters for their views on whether the proposed spot Bitcoin ETFs are vulnerable to, or are capable of preventing, fraud and manipulation.
In another section, the SEC asks commenters whether they believe certain aspects of Bitcoin — such as its geographically distributed trading activity, its relatively slow transactions, and the amount of capital required for significant participation on each trading platform — make the market inherently resistant to market manipulation.
The SEC also asks commenters whether they agree that a surveillance-sharing agreement with Coinbase would help to detect, investigate, and prevent fraud. Several pending ETFs added this agreement with Coinbase through amendments in mid-July.
Elsewhere, the SEC asks commenters whether the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) represents a regulated market of significant size compared to spot Bitcoin. Later, it asks commenters for their views on the correlation between Bitcoin spot markets and the CME Bitcoin futures market.The SEC has previously approved Bitcoin futures ETFs, suggesting that any similarity could potentially influence its decision on the new class of spot Bitcoin ETFs.
Blackrock, Valkyrie, and others affected
The SEC published orders for multiple ETFs simultaneously. Two filings concern proposals from BlackRock (iShares) and Valkyrie, which aim for Nasdaq listings, while another concerns an Invesco Galaxy proposal that aims for a Cboe BZX listing.
Though each order is almost identical, the SEC filed a much more extensive order concerning a spot Bitcoin ETF proposed by Bitwise, which is not patterned after BlackRock’s filing and uniquely aims for a listing through NYSE Arca. That order includes a whopping 88 pages of content, whereas other orders are just eight pages long. Bitwise incidentally updated its filing with 40 pages of material this week.
Filings do not necessarily delay SEC decision
Contrary to other reports, the orders do not explicitly postpone the SEC’s decision on the relevant applications. The current orders may nevertheless have a delaying effect, as the massive amount of information that the SEC seeks could extend proceedings.
Even if the SEC cannot delay its decision further, it may choose to reject each proposal. In this case, applicants may submit new applications and restart the process.
Though the title of each order suggests that the SEC could approve each ETF, certain parts of the current filings are negative in tone. Notably, the regulator states that it is “providing notice of the grounds for disapproval under consideration” and says that the current proceedings do not indicate that it has reached a conclusion on any issues.