Business 21 February 2019

Dan Taylor

US securities regulator starts reviewing 2 new crypto ETF proposals

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now considering two proposals for exchange traded funds (ETFs), after a second application was filed this week.

An ETF proposal from VanEck/SolidX, filed with Cboe BZX Exchange, was published in Wednesday’s Federal Register, marking the first time since August 2018 that more than one ETF proposal is under review.

With the filing in place, there are now 45 days to go until an initial ruling, with optimism around at least one of the funds being given the green light by regulators.

ETFs are considered to be an important step in attracting more institutional investors into the cryptocurrency space. But to date, regulators have been reluctant to grant approval, citing concerns over the transparency and integrity of Bitcoin Core (BTC) markets, amongst several key reasons for rejecting these plans.

The latest proposals come just a matter of days after an application was submitted by Bitwise Asset Management with NYSE Arca, meaning two potentially significant rulings are expected in short order within the 45-day approval window.

After the U.S. government shutdown was blamed for the withdrawal of previous proposals from VanEck/SolidX, the recent filing is considered by some analysts to be a strong candidate for approval.

If regulators decide the ETF should be approved, it would become the first crypto ETF to be allowed to list on U.S. exchanges. VanEck’s Gabor Gurbacs told CoinDesk the firm had been working closely with regulators to develop the ETF, with hopes this would pay off by winning approval from the SEC.

He noted, “I … hope that our investment in regulatory and market education, hard work and commitment will be honored when the time comes.”

Meanwhile, Bitwise Head of Research Matt Hougan told the news outlet that the pace of change in the crypto sector meant it was possible an ETF would be approved sooner rather than later. He explained, “A year ago there was maybe one qualified crypto custodian … and now there are half-a-dozen, and that number will go up from here. A little more than year ago, we didn’t have futures. A year ago we didn’t have nearly as many firms making markets. A few months ago, you didn’t have folks like Fidelity announced in the space. It’s evolving really, really quickly.”

SEC’s initial rulings on both ETFs are expected by early April.

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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