Eight years ago, the first Bitcoin ETF application was filed. Then rejected. Then filed for again. Then rejected again.
Over the years, many, many proposals have crossed the SEC’s desk—at least twelve, by our count, and the regulator hasn’t approved any of them. But this is the year, say the forever-optimists. 2021 is the year a Bitcoin ETF finally gets approved.
We have to admit: something really does feel different now. For starters, several cryptocurrency ETFs have already launched abroad, including three Bitcoin ETFs in Canada and as many Ethereum funds. Brazil now has a Bitcoin ETF for trade too.
In addition, there’s been a changing of the guard at the SEC. Former CFTC head Gary Gensler—who until recently taught classes at MIT on cryptocurrency—has been seated as SEC Chairman; while noted Bitcoin skeptic Dalia Blass exited the SEC’s Investment Management division in January.
Even crypto skeptics are starting to sense that momentum is building. A decision will be made—and soon.
Where the Bitcoin ETF Filings Stand
Currently, eight applications sit before the SEC. All eight are variations of a physically backed ETF – meaning, the fund would hold bitcoins in cold storage somewhere, much like the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) holds gold bars in a vault.
Four of the ETFs have also had 19b-4 forms filed on their behalf. 19b-4s are rule change proposals submitted by securities exchanges, who would need official approval from the SEC to change their listing rules in order to list and trade the Bitcoin ETFs in question.
When a 19b-4 is filed, the SEC has 45 days in which to weigh in or extend its period of review, up to a maximum of 240 days. Historically, the SEC has pushed out these review periods as much as possible; in fact, the SEC just extended the review period for the 19b-4 Cboe filed on behalf of the VanEck application. The new decision date will be mid-June.
That said, the 240 day window is “binding,” at least as much as anything at regulator’s hands ever is—and given that the VanEck 19b-4 was filed on March 1, it means the SEC has until the end of this year to make a call one way or the other on the firm’s proposal. The clock is indeed ticking.
What’s Inside Each Bitcoin ETF Filing
With so many proposals on the SEC’s desk, it’s easy to gloss over the details and assume each is pretty much the same as the others—especially since the chatter from experts and analysts is that the SEC, if and when it does approve an ETF, will approve more than one at once.
Yet these proposed ETFs aren’t fungible. Each offers its own twist on the theme, which we break down below:
|What’s Inside the 8 Bitcoin ETF Filings|
|Proposed Name||VanEck Bitcoin Trust||Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund||NYDIG Bitcoin ETF||WisdomTree Bitcoin Trust||First Trust SkyBridge Bitcoin ETF Trust||Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust||Kryptoin Bitcoin ETF Trust||Galaxy Bitcoin ETF|
|Issuer||VanEck||Valkyrie Investments||Stone Ridge & NYDIG||WisdomTree||First Trust & SkyBridge||Fidelity||Kryptoin Investment Advisors||The Race to the First Bitcoin ETF | Crypto Channel