SEC Delays Decision On Bitcoin ETFs, Again

Those waiting for the first Bitcoin ETFs might have to hold their breath a little longer.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) postponed decisions on three filings for Bitcoin ETFs yesterday. It published documents stating that it will take a final decision on two high-profile ETF proposals in mid-October.

Those decisions pertain to the Bitwise and VanEck Bitcoin ETF filings submitted in February and March this year and will be taken on October 3 and October 18. A third decision, regarding the proposal filed by Wilshire Phoenix Trust, will be taken on September 29.     

Under current rules, the Commission has to approve or disapprove changes to the filing within 180 days of filing. It can extend those dates by a maximum of 60 days. The new dates published by the agency incorporate the delayed dates.

“The Commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change,” the agency wrote. This is not the first time that the agency has kicked the can down the road.

Why is a Bitcoin ETF Important for The Cryptocurrency Ecosystem?

A Bitcoin ETF is considered by many as the holy grail for adoption of cryptocurrencies as an investment asset.

Unlike other investment instruments, ETFs are low-cost and typically minimize risk by tracking indices for an asset class instead of owning it outright. These characteristics make them favorable to retail and institutional investors interested in minimizing risk and generating returns. In fact, ETFs are an ideal vehicle to profit off the volatility of cryptocurrency markets without taking on their risk.

But the SEC has expressed concerns about cryptocurrency markets and their underlying exchanges, which will be used to track prices for various cryptos.

In a letter early last year, the agency outlined a number of these “significant investor protection issues“. Firms filing for Bitcoin ETFs have made several adjustments to allay the agency’s fears. For example, VanEck has proposed an ETF backed by physical bitcoin and plans to derive prices from OTC desks regulated by the CFTC. It has also set a minimum investment amount of 25 BTC, limiting the ETF’s market to institutional investors who are able to digest the accompanying risk. San Francisco-based Bitwise has released research reports, highlighting fraudulent volumes at crypto exchanges and providing a window into clean and regulated areas of the crypto ecosystem.