Refile and wait? Pulse check on the quest for a spot bitcoin ETF

Bitcoin’s bounce back this summer has largely been fueled by renewed hopes of a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund launch this year, but recent attempts from major firms like Fidelity and BlackRock continue to be deemed insufficient for approval by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”Everybody refiled, depending on how you read the paperwork,” Dave Nadig, financial futurist at VettaFi, told Bob Pisani on CNBC’s “ETF Edge” on Wednesday. “All of them are now talking about having a surveillance-sharing agreement with Coinbase.”Surveillance-sharing agreements between exchanges and crypto custodians like Coinbase were put into place by asset managers in an attempt to appease the SEC’s concerns about possible fraud and market manipulation. But the regulator still found the filings to lack clarity and comprehension, prompting BlackRock to refile last week.”And I think there’s this idea that somehow BlackRock knew something,” Nadig said. “And that the SEC is on the verge of approving this, once these surveillance-sharing agreements are in place.”BlackRock first filed its application to launch the iShares Bitcoin Trust last month, with Fidelity following suit two weeks later. WisdomTree, VanEck and Invesco have also taken the steps toward their own funds.Nadig explained that he still remains fairly negative on the SEC’s imminent approval, the most realistic scenario being an SEC response indicating a new standard for filings and surveillance-sharing agreements across the board.”There’s a level of scrutiny involved that I will be surprised if Coinbase can meet the mark on,” Nadig said. “However, if [the SEC] is trying to manufacture a way to approve a bitcoin ETF, this would be the way to do it. It would still be a big shift from what they’ve said in the past.”The filings come amid an ongoing legal battle between Grayscale and the SEC about converting its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into an ETF. A decision in the case is expected later this year.”I think it’s quite reasonable to say that the SEC has been arbitrary and capricious on how they’ve applied certain rules,” Nadig said, adding that the SEC historically has viewed corresponding commodity spot and futures products as a positive indicator for approval.”That doesn’t mean that they necessarily approve the conversion of GBTC into an ETF,” he added. “But I think they can still lose that lawsuit that says [the SEC] treated somebody unfairly under the Administrative Procedures Act.”But Nadig explained that a potential loss by the SEC in the Grayscale lawsuit will not necessarily translate to a green light for asset management firms seeking spot funds.”I think the odds are still negative for this year,” Nadig said. “But certainly, things look more positive than they did maybe three weeks ago, six weeks ago.”Disclaimer

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