Industry Updates

SEC approves physical bitcoin ETF in the US

11 bitcoin ETFs to launch

Lucy Brewster

bitcoins law regulation

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has greenlighted the creation of spot bitcoin ETFs, a watershed decision expected to drive billions of dollars into new funds and expose a fresh batch of investors to the ups and downs of crypto investing.

The order went public before today, and the SEC document disappeared from the agency's website shortly after, a reminder of the tech glitches that led to a false tweet yesterday that incorrectly announced the spot bitcoin ETF approval.

The SEC filing said the regulatory body approved all 11 ETF issuers. Funds from firms including Grayscale Bitcoin Investment, BlackRock, Fidelity Investments, Invesco and Ark/21Shares may begin trading as soon as Thursday.

"After careful review, the Commission finds that the Proposals are consistent with the Exchange Act and rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities exchange," the SEC wrote.

Investors and crypto aficionados hailed the SEC's decision, which comes more than 10 years after Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss first applied to create the funds in 2013.

The SEC has denied multiple applications over the years, ruling the funds didn't sufficiently protect against fraud, and as crypto services firms including Sam Bankman-Fried's giant FTX trading platform, imploded.

Applicants in 2023 began adding security measures that appear to have eased the regulator's concerns.

"Spot ETF approval today is a true milestone moment for the crypto asset class," Sui Chung, CEO of CF Benchmarks, said which operates the underlying incides for seven issuers, including BlackRock.

"A spot ETF has always been important because it stands to open bitcoin up to a much broader swathe of investors."

Spot bitcoin ETF approved

The approved funds also include the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF, Hashdex Bitcoin ETF, Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund, Invesco Galaxy Bitcoin ETF, VanEck Bitcoin Trust and the WisdomTree Bitcoin Fund.

Bitcoin fell less than 1% late this afternoon. It's more than doubled over the past year.ETFs that track cryptocurrency futures began trading in 2021 with the launch of the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO). BITO has more than doubled this past year. Still, the SEC held fast against approving a spot bitcoin ETF.

Last August, the agency lost a key court decision against Grayscale Investments, which had sued the SEC over its decision to forbid the firm from converting its Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust into a spot bitcoin ETF. Many observers saw that as pivotal in clearing the path toward approval.

Potential issuers have been locked in a fee war recently. The funds' fees range from Bitwise's 0.20% to Grayscale's 1.5%. Several firms including BlackRock, Invesco, and Bitwise are waiving their fees for the first months of trading.

"There is no benefit from going with a higher fee issuer because you are simply getting bitcoin exposure," Morningstar ETF analyst Bryan Armour said. "There could be some small differences between different issuers we're gonna have to see how that plays out."

Valkyrie's Steven McClurg said he expects as much as $4bn inflows to bitcoin ETFs this week in their first trading days. Yet he and other issuers emphasize that they are also taking a long-term view as they work to convince institutional investors to buy bitcoin.

"It took a lot longer than many had hoped, but US investors have finally gotten the holy grail of bitcoin ETFs," senior analyst Sumit Roy said. "It is an incredible achievement for an industry that put ten years of hard work into this.

"As the competition for market share ratchets up, some issuers are focusing on winning over financial advisers while others are focusing on institutional investors. The biggest barrier to the entry is that there are 10 others," McClurg said.

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