The great Bitcoin hope of an SEC-approved ETF remains alive—for Bitwise Managing Director Matt Hougan, at least.
Yesterday, Hougan told CNBC that his investment firm is “closer than ever” to getting a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) approved, and he’s confident that it’s going to be an “exciting week.” Bitwise has a Bitcoin ETF proposal currently in the hands of the SEC, who must give it a decisive “yes” or “no” by the October 13 deadline.
“Sometime before Monday, the SEC has to give its decision,” he said. “They have no more ways to postpone it at this point. We will hear clearly between now and Monday what they think, and then… we’ll go forward from there.”
It is perhaps an unsurprisingly take from the firm that holds the final shot to get a Bitcoin ETF approved in 2019, even if it flies in the face of recent history with the SEC.
To say it’s been a tough road for Bitcoin ETFs would be an understatement. It’s long since been the dream of crypto investment firms to create a simple way for ordinary investors to buy into Bitcoin through an exchange-traded fund, which means they wouldn’t need to buy BTC from a crypto exchange and hold it in digital wallets in order to invest in it.
The Winklevoss twins of the Gemini exchange, for example, originally submitted their application for a Bitcoin ETF back in 2013. After five years of sparring with the SEC, the Winklevii ultimately had their proposal rejected in mid-2018.
Then came the VanEck, SolidX proposal. The joint venture initially tried to get a Bitcoin ETF approved in 2017, and appeared to make some headway in 2018 when the SEC sought comments from the public to weigh their decision. After several delays, rejections, resubmissions, and more delays, VanEck most recently pulled the plug on its proposal last month as its own deadline approached.
So does Bitwise’s Hougan have any reason to think his Bitcoin ETF proposal will fair any better with the SEC, or it just wishful thinking?
Hougan said in his interview with CNBC that the Bitcoin market over the past two years has gone through several changes, and that many of the problems that the SEC associates with crypto—such as regulation and custody issues—are beginning to be addressed.
Bitcoin is now among the “most efficient institutional markets in the world,” and it involves some of the globe’s top financial players, he claimed.
But even if the SEC approves Bitwise’s Bitcoin ETF (and that’s still a really big “if”), there is some doubt whether this will actually lead to the massive injection of institutional money into the Bitcoin market that it once promised.
Van Eck’s “limited Bitcoin ETF” product, launched last month, was a dud. And Bakkt’s bitcoin futures exchange, which was similarly once thought to be a surefire gateway to mainstream investor money, has so far performed so poorly that it might have crashed the Bitcoin market.