In a blow for cryptocurrency investors, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejected nine applications for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund or ETF. The decision was made ahead of today’s deadline for a pair of submissions by ProShares for the New York Stock Exchange’s NYSE Arca. The other proposals included five from Direxion, also for NYSE Arca, and two from GraniteShares for listing on Cboe Global Markets.
Any approval would have cleared the way for the first-ever bitcoin-based ETF. In explaining the ruling, the SEC said the proposals failed “to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices” and in clarifying language afterwards, specified worries about price manipulation. Regulators also claim there has been no evidence to demonstrate that bitcoin futures have “significant size.”
In July, the SEC rejected another Bitcoin ETF application from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, citing similar concerns. The effort to secure ETF approval for the bitcoin industry goes back four years. The step is seen as crucial to making cryptocurrency trading less complicated and daunting for mainstream retail investors. There is growing institutional interest in cryptocurrencies as an asset class, allowing the futures market to emerge as an infrastructure for trading them.
“They want to make bitcoin a global currency and the ETF is that conduit,” KKM Financial CEO Jeff Kilburg told CNBC. “I think the SEC continues to do their due diligence, they have their policies and procedures, but it’s a matter of time.”
While some were optimistic, the SEC ruling wasn’t much of a surprise to observers in the blockchain space. Anticipation of the decision was a major topic of discussion at the BlockShow trade event and conference in Las Vegas earlier this week and internally, word had circulated at Cboe that the rejections were on the way. The bitcoin futures market appears to have shrugged off the news with trading up today.
The SEC also has until September 30 to approve or reject a VanEck SolidX bitcoin trust. It’s also looking at an ETF that would track a basket of cryptocurrencies. It was filed in July by Bitwise.