Home / Is BlackRock the ETF Standard? Ark Investments Copies BlackRock Filing to SEC
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Is BlackRock the ETF Standard? Ark Investments Copies BlackRock Filing to SEC

Published June 29, 2023 1:26 PM
Omar Elorfaly
Published June 29, 2023 1:26 PM

Key Takeaways

  • ARK Invest modifies its ETF filing to include SSA
  • The SEC claims it hasn’t accepted a single spot ETF due to a lack of guarantee against market manipulation
  • Spot ETF applications may lead to stricter SEC control over the crypto market

ARK Invest, a notable asset management company modified its spot ETF application to match a feature found in BlackRock’s spot ETF application. This feature may be the key to finally getting the first spot ETF application approved by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC has been rejecting every spot ETF applied for by any company due to concerns regarding market manipulation.

The regulating commission reports that none of the previous applications provided enough guarantee that the applying company will not commit market manipulation. However, the one modification made to ARK’s application might be the answer to the SEC’s concerns.

Transparency Is Key

BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset management company with trillions of dollars under its management, submitted an application for a Bitcoin spot ETF last week. The news sent shockwaves through the crypto market, enticing more financial institutions to hop on the crypto wagon and apply for their own ETFs.

Although the SEC has never approved a single spot ETF application in the past, stakeholders are optimistic regarding the future of BlackRock’s application.

It might be that BlackRock has a nearly-flawless record of successful ETF applications, or it might be the fact that BlackRock is providing the SEC with the one thing that addresses their concerns regarding marketing manipulation. 

The only ETF application filed by BlackRock to ever get rejected by the SEC was back in 2014. The SEC then released a statement stating that BlackRock’s application did not provide sufficient transparency regarding its operations, income, and holdings. 

And, that “non-transparency” clause set the tone for future ETF applications. The SEC’s main focus was regarding companies being required to provide daily updates regarding their income and assets to their corresponding regulating commissions.

Following that approach would theoretically prevent these financial institutions from manipulating the market as all of their dealings would be subject to supervision by governmental bodies.


ARK Invest’s modification to its April spot ETF filing  added a Surveillance-Sharing Agreement (SSA). 

According to the company’s filing, “The Spot BTC SSA is expected to be a bilateral surveillance-sharing agreement between the Exchange and the US BTC Spot Market Platform that is intended to supplement the Exchange’s market surveillance program.”

“The Spot BTC SSA is expected to have the hallmarks of a surveillance-sharing agreement between two members of the ISG, which would give the Exchange supplemental access to data regarding spot Bitcoin trades on the US BTC Spot Market Platform, if the Exchange determines it is necessary as part of its surveillance program for the Commodity-Based Trust Shares.”

ARK Invest is taking extra steps to assure the SEC that the exchange is planning to go above and beyond to guarantee no market manipulation. The filing’s literature was modified to state that the exchange shares the same goals the SEC has for market security. 

“If the Exchange and the US BTC Spot Market Platform enter into such an agreement, the Exchange would incorporate the Spot BTC SSA into its market surveillance program prior to allowing trading of the Shares.”

“This Spot BTC SSA…which the Exchange believes on its own represents a regulated market of significant size, would further strengthen the Exchange’s ability to detect and deter manipulation of the Shares.”

The First Bitcoin Spot ETF

ARK Invest filed its spot ETF application in April, two months before BlackRock’s application. With the SSA clause added in, the exchange’s chances for SEC approval likely increased, enhancing its chances to become the country’s first Bitcoin spot ETF, beating BlackRock.

However, considering the hype surrounding BlackRock’s application, and the company’s sheer financial power, being a runner-up in the race to become the country’s first Bitcoin spot ETF is probably not a concern the company dwells on too much.

The only thing left to wonder about is if SSA agreements are sufficient of a rebuttal to the SEC’s concerns regarding spot ETFs.