Public comments sought as SEC initiates Wilshire Phoenix Bitcoin ETF review

After the CBOE BZX exchange recently pulled its request to offer a cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund (ETF) with VanEck and SolidX, a new company stepped in, hoping it will succeed where everyone else has failed. Wilshire Phoenix wants to list and trade shares of its Bitcoin and Treasury Investment Trust on the NYSE Arca exchange, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as it has repeatedly done with all other crypto-based ETFs, wants more time before reaching a decision. That decision is most likely obvious to virtually everyone in the crypto space, given that the SEC has yet to show any support for ETFs that focus on digital currencies.

Wilshire Phoenix first submitted its request this past June, according to an SEC filing (in pdf). The commission indicates that NYSE Arca submitted the proper paperwork and that an initial comment period began on July 1. Subsequently, and as is the modus operandi for the SEC and Chairman Jay Clayton, the SEC postponed making a decision and announced that, on August 12, it was extending the period “within which to approve the proposed rule change, disapprove the proposed rule change, or institute proceedings to determine whether to disapprove the proposed rule change.”

Per SEC rules, a company that wants to list an ETF has to submit a rule change proposal, which is then considered by the commission after a public comment period. In all cases of crypto ETF requests submitted to the SEC, the commission has consistently decided that it needed more time to reach a decision. This comes in spite of the fact that the ETFs have been very similar in nature and the comments in response to them have also been relatively common.

If the ETF were to be approved, Wilshire Phoenix’s ETF would allow investors to gain access to BTC and U.S. Treasury Bonds. The SEC explains that the investments would be held in a trust, and that the objective of this trust is “for the Shares to closely reflect the Bitcoin Treasury Index (‘Index’), less the Trust’s liabilities and expenses. The Trust would have no assets other than (a) bitcoin and (b) short-term U.S. Treasury securities with a maturity of less than one year (‘T-Bills’). The Trust would also hold U.S. dollars for short periods of time in connection with (i) the maturity of any T-Bills, (ii) the purchase and sale of bitcoin and/or TBills, and (iii) the payment of redemptions, if any, and fees and expenses of the Trust.”

So, the SEC needs more public input to make a decision on a matter it has most likely already decided. Still, it will play its games until the end of October, which is when it is legally obligated to make a call – no more delays. In the meantime, everyone will be watching to see what the SEC has to say about the Bitwise Asset Management ETF, which requires a decision no later than October 13.

Editor’s Note: This article previously stated CBOE BZX would offer a cryptocurrency ETF with VanEck and Global X. Global X was incorrectly listed, and has been updated to reflect SolidX. We regret the error.

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