BlackRock, the world’s largest exchange-traded fund issuer, is seeking permission from a US regulator to offer a bitcoin ETF in partnership with the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global.
BlackRock, also the world’s largest asset manager, filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch a fund tracking the price of bitcoin, which is currently not permitted by the agency.
The fund, titled the iShares Bitcoin Trust, will store bitcoin with Coinbase’s Custody Trust unit.
BlackRock’s filing comes as the SEC blocked similar efforts to launch so-called spot bitcoin ETFs. Grayscale Investments has sued the SEC as the crypto investment firm seeks to convert its bitcoin trust into the first spot bitcoin ETF listed in the U.S.
The SEC is increasingly cracking down on crypto platforms and brokers, including Coinbase.
The regulator earlier this month sued Coinbase, the largest US crypto platform, and Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, leveling a variety of charges including operating as an unregistered securities exchange.
“This is [a] shocker,” Bloomberg senior ETF analyst Eric Balchunas said in a tweet. “There's been no signs at all [the] SEC [is] willing to approve, but BlackRock is [a] very connected co[mpany] so maybe they know something?”
A handful of bitcoin ETFs currently trade, and several more companies have sought permission to offer them this year, although spot bitcoin ETFs are not permitted.
BlackRock currently operates an ETF that invests in bitcoin’s supporting technology, the iShares Blockchain Technology UCITS ETF (BLKC), which soared 75% this year.
Despite the lawsuits, crypto and blockchain ETFs have been among the best-performing funds this year. The Global X Blockchain UCITS ETF (BKCH) has risen by 71.4% since the year began.
New York-based BlackRock currently employs Coinbase to provide institutional clients of its Aladdin investment management platform, with services including crypto trading and storage, under terms of a deal announced in August.
This article was originally published on ETF.com