The path towards a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) hasn’t always been a clear one, and while steps are being taken to ensure things go smoothly, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Jay Clayton says there is still “work left to be done.”
Clayton Says the SEC Still Has Concerns
In a recent interview, Clayton comments that “progress is being made” when it comes to pushing a bitcoin ETF forward, though the SEC’s worries haven’t dissipated completely. There are several companies that have tried for a bitcoin or crypto-based ETF over the years, including the Gemini Exchange founded by the Winklevoss Twins in New York. Unfortunately, many of these ETF proposals have been outright rejected.
Among those that have encountered some consideration and “success” is VanEck Solid X, a joint company which initially filed its proposal in early March of 2017. While this company was rejected at first and results were no different during the second submission, things changed the third time around, paying homage to the saying “third time’s the charm.”
After three attempts, VanEck Solid X saw its proposal looked at extensively by the SEC. They posted the ETF for public comment and sought expert industry advice regarding whether to permit the ETF. The proposal garnered positive reviews, which ultimately set the SEC in motion regarding a decision for approval.
However, a choice was set to be made in August of 2018, over one year ago. This decision was postponed several times until recently, the SEC announced that a final one would occur in October of this year. There will be no pushbacks after this; there will be either a “yes” or a “no” answer coming from the agency.
Apparently, one of the big worries of the SEC is, and always has been, price manipulation. Clayton recently issued a statement that reiterated these worries again, explaining:
An even harder question given that they trade on largely unregulated exchanges is how can we be sure that those prices aren’t subject to significant manipulation? People needed to answer these hard questions for us to be comfortable that this was the appropriate kind of product.
He later commented that the SEC’s questions weren’t “trivial,” and thus found it odd to believe that answers were so difficult to come by.
Some Companies Play By Other Rules
In the middle of everything have been companies like Arca, which has published countless reports for the SEC suggesting why a bitcoin ETF can be very beneficial for traders.
Other companies have sought different routes to get what they want. CBOE BZX, for example, which had submitted a crypto-based ETF proposal in 2018, decided to withdraw its outline in 2019 during the government shutdown and refile once the government had reopened. This ETF was largely seen as a primary contender in the race of which ETF would be approved first.