The U.S.’s first spot bitcoin ETFs (exchange-traded funds) are cleared to launch, after federal regulators gave a green light for Americans to invest in financial vehicles tracking in the 15-year-old cryptocurrency.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday declared effective the 19b-4 filings submitted by the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and Cboe Global Markets, giving these markets permission to list and offer trading in the securities as soon as Thursday..
About a dozen companies, including BlackRock, Fidelity and Grayscale, sought to create bitcoin (BTC) ETFs. In recent days they’ve announced – and, in some cases, slashed – the fees they plan to charge investors, suggesting a fierce battle to collect investors’ money is ahead. These are spot ETFs, meaning they hold bitcoin itself, versus the already-approved bitcoin futures ETFs, which hold derivatives contracts tied to BTC.
The green light from the SEC follows many years of delays and outright rejections of numerous attempts to launch spot bitcoin ETFs. It also comes just a few months after the agency was handed a resounding loss in court. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in August ruled the SEC was “arbitrary and capricious” in its decision to reject Grayscale’s attempt to convert its roughly $26 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into a spot ETF.
The SEC approval early this year became seemingly a sure thing toward the end of 2023. A flurry of meetings between the agency and the proposed ETF issuers, alongside numerous amendments to the applicants’ ETF S-1 filings, gave the impression of “i’s” being dotted and “t’s” being crossed ahead of launch.
NYSE Arca, Cboe BZX and Nasdaq filed their final 19b-4 submissions at the end of last week, bringing the filings more in line with the amended S-1 filings submitted by the would-be ETF issuers, which also include companies Galaxy/Invesco, Ark and Franklin Templeton.
Earlier on Wednesday, brokerages like Fidelity and E-Trade began putting tickers tied to some of these ETFs onto their platforms.
With rising optimism about spot ETFs, the price of bitcoin shot from around the $27,000 level on Oct. 1 to over $45,000 at the start of 2024.
Shares of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), the largest closed-end bitcoin fund that now has granted to convert into an ETF, popped to $40, its highest price since December 2021, TradingView data shows.
Jenn Rosenthal, vice president for communications at Grayscale, said in a statement, “I am happy to confirm that the Grayscale team has received necessary regulatory approvals to uplist GBTC to NYSE Arca, and we will share a press release with additional information shortly.”
The SEC initially published, then seemingly deleted, an order approving the U.S.’s first spot bitcoin ETFs (exchange-traded funds) on Wednesday.
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