The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just announced that it is delaying the decision on the VanEck/SolidX Bitcoin Trust ETF. The ETF, originally proposed earlier this past summer, is widely seen as one of the most promising exchange traded funds in the space.
The SEC has pushed the decision to next year. With this latest delay, the SEC has until February 27, 2019 to make a decision on the promising ETF. It’s expected that the SEC will make a final decision on the ETF on that date.
The bitcoin ETF was first proposed to the SEC early in summer 2018. The SEC delayed the decision on the ETF in September and then delayed the decision once more today.
The ETF was built by blockchain startup SolidX in partnership with money manager VanEck. The two partnered with the Cboe exchange earlier this year. If approved, the bitcoin ETF would be listed on the Cboe exchange, which made headlines last year for launching the first bitcoin futures markets.
To date, the SEC has rejected all bitcoin ETF proposals that have come across its desk. In recent months, however, the SEC has chosen to delay bitcoin ETF proposals instead of flat-out rejecting them.
Some see this as a positive sign for the crypto space. Others see it as a forestalling of the inevitable.
The SEC Could Approve a Bitcoin ETF Within the Next Few Months
There appears to be uncertainty within the SEC on how to regulate bitcoin ETFs. At least two of the five SEC commissioners are viewed as being supportive of a bitcoin ETF, although SEC Chairman and Commissioner Jay Clayton does not seem supportive.
In August, the American securities regulator simultaneously rejected nine separate bitcoin ETF proposals from ProShares, GraniteShares, and Direxion. Then, 24 hours later, the SEC stayed its own decision and announced it was re-reviewing the applications.
The VanEck/SolidX Bitcoin Trust ETF, meanwhile, is seen as one of the most promising ETFs in the space. Some believe it has a real chance of being the first bitcoin ETF approved by the SEC.
One reason to be optimistic about this ETF is that it differs from other ETF proposals in one crucial way: the ETF will hold real, physical bitcoin instead of simply using futures contracts. Additionally, the ETF comes with a minimum per-share investment of 25 BTC, which is why the ETF is expected to cater largely to institutional investors.
Are Bitcoin Markets Mature Enough to Handle a Bitcoin ETF?
Nevertheless, bears and pessimists insist that bitcoin markets cannot handle a bitcoin ETF. The SEC has mentioned a number of issues in the past, including fears of price manipulation and a lack of protection for ordinary investors. Many believe that the bitcoin market has not yet solved these problems – so why would the SEC suddenly approve a bitcoin ETF?
There’s one interesting thing with this latest delay, however: the launch of Bakkt.
Could Bakkt Save the Day When It Launches in January 2019?
Bakkt, an institutional-grade crypto platform, is scheduled to launch in late January 2019 after initially being scheduled to launch November 2018. Many believe the launch of Bakkt will create better price discovery within the crypto community while also allowing institutions to more easily invest in the industry.
If Bakkt is successful, then it could certainly pave the way for bitcoin ETF approval.
Bakkt’s parent company is ICE, which is also the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange. ICE played a significant role in the rise of gold ETFs in the early 2000s, creating an entirely new and regulated market around the popular commodity. Now, ICE could do a similar thing with Bakkt, which is also supported by Microsoft, Starbucks, and other major corporate entities.
Between the launch of Bakkt and the final decision on the VanEck/SolidX Bitcoin Trust ETF, it’s going to be an interest start to 2019 for the crypto community.