If the Securities and Exchange Commission had approved a Bitwise Bitcoin ETF today — April’s Fool Day — would anyone have believed it?
Today marked the end of the 45-day public comment period for the ETF and the SEC punted, extending the deadline to May 16.
“The commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to take action on the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider the proposed rule change,” according to a commission statement released on March 29. By May 16, it expects to “approve or disapprove or institute proceedings to determine whether to disapprove the proposed rule change,” according to the statement.
The SEC also delayed a decision on a proposed rule change from the Cboe BZX Exchange to list and trade shares of the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Shares, which was previously withdrawn, then resubmitted. Its public comment period would have ended April 6 and has now been extended to May 21.
To date, the SEC has not approved any cryptocurrency ETF for trading. It has rejected some filings, including one by the Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, while others have been withdrawn by sponsors who had reason to be pessimistic about approval.
The agency is concerned about potential fraud and manipulation in the cryptocurrency market, and its chairman, Jay Clayton, told a cryptocurrency conference in November that the issue “needs to be addressed” before he would want to see trading in cryptocurrency ETFs. Even SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, who has voted in favor of a Bitcoin ETF, cautioned in December that SEC approval of a Bitcoin ETF will take time.
To date the SEC has received a limited number of comments on the two Bitcoin ETF filings that are now delayed — 23 for the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF Trust and 18 for the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust. Most, but not all, of the comments urged rejection.
On March 29 the agency listed a job opening for a Crypto Specialist to work in its Division of Trading and Markets, who would provide expertise and coordinate the division’s activities concerning crypto and digital asset securities. That listing closes on April 12.
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