SEC Quietly Puts Bitcoin ETF Proposals Back on the Table

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has quietly begun considering two Bitcoin ETF proposals, public documents show.

According to SEC documents dated March 23, the agency has instituted formal proceedings to determine whether to approve a rule change that would allow NYSE Arca to list two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) proposed by fund provider ProShares.

ProShares Bitcoin ETF and ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF would each hold Bitcoin futures contracts, providing retail investors with the ability to indirectly invest in the flagship cryptocurrency — or bet against it — through a familiar investment product.

“The Commission is instituting proceedings pursuant to Section 19(b)(2)(B) of the Act to determine whether the proposed rule change should be approved or disapproved. Institution of such proceedings is appropriate at this time in view of the legal and policy issues raised by the proposed rule change,” the order says.

ProShares had first proposed these two funds in September — before CBOE and CME had launched their Bitcoin futures products — and NYSE Arca began seeking SEC approval to list these funds in December.

However, as CCN reported, the SEC requested that fund providers withdraw their Bitcoin ETF applications and issued a statement expressing reluctance to approve these products until more investor protections are put in place.

Last month, Chris Concannon, president of CBOE, penned a letter to the SEC asking them to consider Bitcoin ETF proposals on a case-by-case basis rather than as a product class. He noted that CBOE has successfully cleared several rounds of Bitcoin futures expirations without incident and said that the Bitcoin markets are rapidly maturing and could soon warrant a regulated ETF.

Per SEC guidelines, the proposed rule change will be published in the Federal Register, after which the public will have 21 days to comment and an additional 14 days to submit rebuttals to other comments.

Comments can be submitted through email or the SEC website, and commenters should reference file number SR-NYSEArca-2017-139 on the subject line.

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Josiah is a full-time journalist at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.