The Securities and Exchange Commission appears poised to greenlight several Bitcoin exchange traded funds in the near future, but they may not be exactly what clients are looking for, according to news reports.
While dozens of cryptocurrency ETFs have launched in Europe and Canada, the SEC has been reluctant to give its blessing to such a fund in the U.S., Bloomberg writes.
This month marks the deadline by which the regulator must again approve, reject or delay several pending Bitcoin ETF applications. Some industry watchers are optimistic about four products, particularly those from sponsors including ProShares and Valkyrie Investments, according to the news service.
But the strategies on the table mainly use derivatives and do not provide direct cryptocurrency access, the Financial Times notes, adding that taking encouragement from SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s comments may be shortsighted.
The SEC has postponed the deadlines for its decision for four products from Global X, Valkyrie, WisdomTree and Kryptoin by 45 days. The deadline for the first product has now been set for November 1, according to the publication.
Advocates point to comments recently made by Gensler about his openness to Bitcoin ETFs being filed under the Investment Company Act of 1940 that applies to mutual funds, Bloomberg writes.
“We are pretty bullish on approval here,” said James Seyffart, an ETF analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “We just can’t see Gensler and the SEC going out of their way to state positive comments about a 1940-Act Bitcoin futures ETF at the end of September and then denying all of them less than a month later.”
Nate Geraci, president of advisory firm the ETF Store, believes it would be “disingenuous for the SEC to encourage more filings,” and then reject them, particularly given how many years firms have tried to package crypto for retail, he told Bloomberg.
The Valkyrie fund, for example, is a revamped application of a product first pitched to regulators in 2017, according to FA-IQ sister publication Ignites. The ETF invests in Bitcoin futures contracts, and as the contracts expire, the fund will replace them with later-dated ones.
But Zacks Investment Research research director Neena Mishra in August told Ignites that investors are likely to want funds backed by the actual asset, drawing comparisons to commodities like gold.
She compared ETFs that track gold, such as the $57 billion SPDR Gold Trust and the $27.6 billion iShares Gold Trust, which were launched in 2004 and 2005, respectively, to those that buy gold futures, including the much smaller Invesco DB Gold Fund, which uses futures contracts and launched in 2007, but had only $83 million as of mid-year.
“While investor education is important, I think investors understand the difference between a Bitcoin futures ETF and one that actually tracks Bitcoin,” Mishra told Ignites. “Many crypto investors really looking for a Bitcoin ETF will wait for the latter.”
Dave Nadig, chief investment officer at data provider ETF Trends, is cautious despite believing there’s a reasonable chance of approvals over the next month, Bloomberg writes.
“It’s clear that what’s needed is an actual regulatory plan,” he said, according to the news service. “We have yet to get a hint that one is really forthcoming soon.”
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