Business 7 December 2018

Paul How

US SEC decision on ETF moved to February 2019

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), deliberating on several applications for cryptocurrency-based exchange-traded funds (ETFs), will give its final say on the matter by February 27, 2019.

The application for the VanEck SolidX BTC fund to be listed on the Cboe BZX Exchange had been published in the Federal Register last July 2, and according to the Securities Exchange Act, the commission must give its order in 180 days, or by December 29. However, the SEC is allowed to extend this by 60 days, which moves the deadline to February 27 of next year.

“The Commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change [to list the ETF] so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change,” the SEC’s release read.

After requesting for public input on the issues involved with the ETF applications, the commission has reportedly received over 1,600 comments.

The SEC has actually already rejected several applications, including of SolidX, and of the Winklevoss-owned Gemini. Last August 22, it denied several other applications, of ProShares, Direxion, and GraniteShares, on concerns that the funds would be vulnerable to manipulation. However, the very next day, the orders were stayed, in order to review them.

Just last week, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton expressed his apprehension over giving ETFs the green light, stating that cryptocurrency markets, on which the ETFs’ prices would be based, had to first develop similar monitoring mechanisms as those found for more traditional financial instruments.

He also said there was a need for cryptocurrency custody services to improve, in order to reduce incidence of cryptocurrency thefts, which often happen on exchanges, with users providing companies their private keys and other sensitive information.

VanEck and SolidX have stated in a meeting with the SEC that the relevant cryptocurrency futures markets were actually capable of being sufficiently monitored, and that due to the nature of blockchain, where information on trades is decentralized, the susceptibility of BTC to manipulation was no greater than that of commodities for other exchange-traded products.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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