For months now, the Bitcoin market has been increasingly reactive to any news regarding the fate of spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) applications in the USA. Now, in the most dramatic illustration of the market’s anticipation for the funds yet, the price of BTC has surged by around 10% in 24 hours following good news for two prospective ETF issuers.
On Monday, October 23rd, both Grayscale and Blackrock moved one step closer to listing their respective spot Bitcoin funds on US exchanges, setting the stage for them to potentially begin trading by the end of the year.
As the world’s most valuable asset manager, Blackrock has long been a favorite to win the spot Bitcoin ETF race by gaining approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission first.
Now, although there has been no official confirmation from Blackrock or the SEC, developments in the past 24 hours suggest that SEC approval could be imminent.
According to a tweet by Bloomberg analyst Eric Balchunas, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) has listed Blackrock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust under the ticker $IBTC.
As the platform responsible for clearing NASDAQ trades, getting new funds set up on the DTCC’s platform is an important step toward listing ETFs on America’s most active trading venue.
In another strong indication that Blackrock is preparing to list $IBTC in the near future, in the latest amendment to its SEC filing, the firm implied that it would start seeding the fund as early as this month, an important step that ensures ETFs are sufficiently capitalized before the public is able to buy and sell shares.
Unlike Blackrock, Grayscale is not seeking the SEC’s approval to create a brand new spot BTC-based investment vehicle. Instead, the firm wants to convert its Bitcoin Trust into an ETF.
While the SEC initially rejected Grayscale’s application, in August, a Columbia appeals court sided with the fund manager, ruling that the regulator’s grounds for dismissal were inadequate. After the SEC opted not to appeal the decision, on Monday, the court issued a formal mandate , setting its earlier verdict in stone.
While the price of Bitcoin has responded positively to recent developments, and market watchers appear to be overwhelmingly optimistic about the prospects of an imminent ETF approval, the SEC has yet to officially sanction any ETF application.
As the saying goes, it’s not over until the fat lady sings, and the SEC is a fat lady with a history of postponing gigs.
While Grayscale’s court victory ensures that the agency will have a difficult time arguing against spot Bitcoin ETFs in general, it could still strike down individual applications.
But after all this time, would the SEC really block fund managers’ attempts on technicalities? The crypto lawyer John Deaton has refused to rule out the possibility.
As Deaton observed in a recent X post, the SEC could still come up with a new reason to reject Bitcoin ETF applications, a prospect he said he wouldn’t put past the agency’s Chairman, Gary Gensler.
For the moment, however, ETF watchers are focusing on impending deadlines by which the agency will need to either approve or reject multiple applications. For instance, the SEC will have to make a final decision on Blackrock’s application no later than 23 February 2024.
Meanwhile, it will need to rule on Grayscale’s application before a January 10 deadline.