SEC delays decision on ARK bitcoin ETF filing

The Securities and Exchange Commission has not yet come to a decision on whether to approve the ARK 21Shares bitcoin ETF application, delivering another delay for the long-awaited product. 

The issuer had originally filed in April, and regulators had until Aug. 13 to say whether they would approve, reject or delay on coming to a decision. 

An ETF that invests directly in bitcoin has never been approved in the U.S. The latest batch of applications, however, which includes one from BlackRock Inc., has some analysts hoping that a spot product could start trading soon. 

Many in the crypto community — and fans outside of it — have been longing for a spot bitcoin ETF for years. They argue that it would not only make investing in bitcoin more accessible to everyday investors, but that it would also help bring the digital assets space closer into traditional financial markets. On the other hand, regulators have consistently cited fraud and manipulation as some of the reasons not to approve such a product. 

Nearly simultaneously with the delay decision, 21Shares, in partnership with Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment Management, filed for a bitcoin futures fund, paperwork submitted with the SEC Friday showed. Such a product also doesn’t yet exist in the U.S., though a slew of companies, emboldened by the potential for a spot product, are trying for one.

The paperwork showed the 21Shares proposal for the ARK 21Shares Active Bitcoin Futures ETF could potentially trade under the ticker ARKA.

Still, even if a green light for a Bitcoin spot fund does come later on, many analysts hadn’t expected a decision just yet. Cathie Wood, the founder of ARK, herself said that the SEC may bless multiple spot bitcoin ETFs at the same time, reversing her earlier view that her firm would be first in line to get approval.

A slew of issuers have filed for spot bitcoin ETFs in recent weeks. BlackRock Inc. kicked the race into high gear when it submitted its paperwork. That’s because many see its near-pristine track record with ETFs as being a good harbinger for the asset manager believing it could get a bitcoin fund launched. 

Though cryptocurrencies like bitcoin rose in the weeks following BlackRock’s June entry into the race, they’ve been more subdued since. The largest token is currently trading around $29,400, a level it’s been hovering at for weeks, though it briefly climbed above $31,000 at one point. Bitcoin traded at a record high of almost $69,000 in late 2021.

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