The operator of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a proposed rule change that would allow the exchange to list two Bitcoin ETFs on the NYSE Arca trading platform.
According to the proposal (PDF), which was filed with the SEC on December 19, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) intends to list two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that use futures contracts to track the price of bitcoin, the ProShares Bitcoin ETF and the ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF.
ProShares had originally filed to create these funds in September, but the SEC had declined to review the applications since the underlying assets — bitcoin futures — did not yet exist. Now that bitcoin futures products are listed on U.S. exchanges CME and CBOE, ProShares refiled these two ETFs, along with two more blockchain-related funds, on Tuesday.
The SEC has yet to issue a ruling on a Bitcoin ETF filed after the launch of bitcoin futures, but many analysts anticipate the agency will approve one within the near future, given that CME and CBOE are already highly-regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the markets have been relatively orderly during their debut phase.
While analysts expect that the SEC is poised to grant its approval to the first Bitcoin ETF, the filing comes as somewhat of a surprise, given that ICE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher recently said that the company did not want to “rush out” a bitcoin futures product, even though it could likely have been the first exchange operator to bring this product to market.
“We didn’t think it was obvious to rush out a product and be first and settle against an index on a lot of exchanges that are not particularly transparent,” Sprecher said earlier this month.
Apparently, ICE does not harbor the same concerns about Bitcoin ETFs, even though these products will be targeted at retail investors and critics have warned that they could lead to the “financial crisis all over again.”
Assuming the SEC does grant the proposal, it will likely represent a watershed moment for cryptocurrency adoption, potentially turning bitcoin into a mainstream financial instrument that ordinary Americans will hold in their retirement portfolios.
Write to Josiah Wilmoth at josiah.wilmoth(at)CCN.com.
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