The SEC has once again delayed its decision on the VanEck BTC Trust–a BTC ETF that VanEck is looking to introduce to the market. The SEC has postponed their decision by 45 days and is giving the public 20 days to comment on the matter.
For several years now, institutions have been trying to take a BTC ETF to market, but time and time again the SEC kicks the can down the road, utilizing the maximum amount of time it can leverage to delay the decision, before finally denying the ETF when the delay period comes to an end.
In the past–and when it comes to the VanEck BTC Trust–the SEC has expressed concerns regarding market manipulation and lack of transparency in the BTC market, and cites both factors as reasons that BTC ETFs have been denied. This time around, the SEC is asking the public to provide feedback during this delay period. They are asking the public,
“whether the proposed Trust and Shares would be susceptible to manipulation, if the regulatory and financial landscapes relating to BTC and other digital assets have changed significantly since 2016, as well as what the public thinks about the liquidity and transparency of the BTC markets, its susceptibility to manipulation, and thus the suitability of BTC as an underlying asset for an exchange-traded product?”
Anyone looking to provide comments on the VanEck BTC trust proposal can do so via the SEC’s internet comment form or by sending an email to the SEC at ‘[email protected]’ and including the case file number ‘SR-CboeBZX2021-019’ in the subject line.
Why an ETF?
There has been a push to get a digital currency ETF publicly trading on a stock exchange because it would give many professional investors representing institutions access to the digital currency markets.
Financial institutions must meet strict requirements when it comes to making investments and taking custody of those investments. In the digital asset space, custody remains an obstacle that prevents institutional investors from getting involved. Most institutional investors purchase equity in companies or government bonds, they don’t typically purchase and custody instruments like digital currency. However, an ETF would solve this because it would allow the investor to buy equity in the company that is investing in the underlying assets, which would indirectly give them exposure to the underlying asset. So instead of investing in a digital currency directly, you would be investing in a company that invests in digital currency.
Will this time be different?
The question that the SEC is asking the public, “if the regulatory and financial landscapes relating to BTC and other digital assets have changed significantly since 2016,” is likely to put a pin in this VanEck ETF receiving approval. Regulation-wise, a few changes have been made and legislators are giving the digital currency industry more time and attention. However, the financial landscape remains the same, a majority of coins and tokens in the space are highly speculative, the market for many coins and tokens is still highly manipulated, and nothing has been done on the transparency front when it comes to BTC.
Ultimately, we will have to see what the SEC says come decision-time; but it will be hard to truthfully answer the SEC’s questions in a way that gives them confidence in BTC as an underlying asset for an exchange-traded product.
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