The crypto industry can breathe a sigh of relief: It looks like a federal U.S. regulator will let the world’s largest traditional finance asset managers and other firms list and trade shares of a vehicle giving retail and institutional investors exposure to the price of a decentralized, trustless, stateless digital asset (if you’re in the U.S.). But of course, thebitcoin exchangetraded fund (ETF) drama wouldn’t be complete without, well, drama.
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On Tuesday afternoon Eastern time, the official X (formerly Twitter) account belonging to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that all outstanding applications to list and trade shares of a spot bitcoin ETF had been approved. The problem was that none of these applications had been approved; the account was “compromised” and someone posted a ‘shopped graphic.
On Wednesday, Cboe BZX exchange started taking some additional steps to list and trade shares of spot bitcoin ETFs, further suggesting we may be close to an approval.
Why it matters
A spot bitcoin ETF is seen as a vehicle that retail traders can invest in (through everyday brokerage accounts) and institutional investors can access (because the shares are registered securities).
Breaking it down
First off: There are tons of little signs that suggest a spot bitcoin ETF is getting approved, probably later today. Cboe has filed acceleration requests to register that it will list and trade shares of various ETFs. It also sent letters out on Tuesday saying it planned to begin trading pending approvals.
Fidelity’s brokerage has started setting up pages for some of the ETFs that may launch as soon as Thursday morning. E-Trade later started doing the same, suggesting they’re also preparing to let their customers buy and trade shares of these products.
Combined with the back-and-forth between SEC officials and issuers, these signs all hint that an ETF may well launch – soon. And if one is approved, it’s likely the entire slate will be allowed to go live.
Of course, this isn’t crypto unless there’s some ridiculous drama. On Tuesday, the SEC’s X/Twitter page was compromised, leading to a tweet saying the ETFs were approved. X’s Safety team claimed that an unknown party was able to gain control over the phone number associated with the @SECgov account, and that the account did not have the security measure known as two-factor authentication enabled.
SEC officials have, as of the time of writing this, not responded to a request for comment on what happened or on the X statement.
(Editor’s note: I recommend enabling two-factor authentication on your accounts, especially in this day and age. You can use hardware keys like Yubikey or software tools like Authy or Google Authenticator, but token-based 2FA is better than text-messaging based 2FA. This is not an endorsement of any particular tool, just naming some examples.)
On Wednesday, adding to the confusion, some individuals misinterpreted the filings from Cboe announcing its acceleration requests, saying those were in fact approvals. They’re not – they’re just procedural – but the filings again suggest the approvals may happen.
What we might see
If an ETF is approved, we may learn about it soon. Like, really soon. But officially, we’ll know when the SEC declares a registration effective, which will likely first show up in its EDGAR database.
“If the Commission declares a registration statement effective, that is reflected on EDGAR,” an SEC spokesperson told me last week. “Any Commission 19b-4 orders will be posted on our website and then published in the Federal Register.”
This will probably happen somewhere between 4 p.m. ET (21:00 UTC) and 5:30 p.m. ET (22:30 UTC). Bloomberg Intelligence’s Eric Balchunas set a range from 4-6 p.m. Either way, that’s the magic window.
An individual affiliated with one aspiring issuer said the recognitions may come earlier in the window, giving issuers a chance to file their post-effective amended statements announcing their intention to begin trading on Thursday morning. Those statements may come on Thursday morning itself, though, depending on timing.
- 17:00 UTC (12:00 p.m. ET) The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Technology Advisory Committee voted to recommend a report on decentralized finance to the broader commission.
- 19:00 UTC (2:00 p.m. ET) A House Financial Services subcommittee is holding a hearing on the Financial Stability Oversight Council, where crypto will come up.
- (The Air Current) An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft lost a plug door shortly after takeoff last week, explosively decompressing and making an emergency landing a few minutes later. No one appears to have been seriously injured, and the Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all U.S.-based MAX 9 aircraft pending further inspections. Preliminary inspections by Alaska and United have already identified loose bolts (Disclosure: I’m invested in Boeing shares).
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