Marathon Digital CEO Fred Thiel remains optimistic that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will approve a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

“I don't know about giving out odds on something like this because the fact that Larry Fink and BlackRock are even trying to do this would say that they have a pretty high degree of certainty that they'll get it through,” Thiel told Decrypt.

There are currently about half a dozen applications for the launch of a spot Bitcoin ETF, which would track the price of Bitcoin (BTC) directly, rather than following futures contracts or other derivatives. This would make it easier for investors to get exposure to Bitcoin without having to buy and store the cryptocurrency themselves.

Among the Bitcoin ETF hopefuls are BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $9 trillion in assets under management as of Q2 2023, as well as other prominent players, including Wisdom Tree, VanEck, and Fidelity, among others.


“I think what is certain is that if one gets approved, a number of them will get approved,” said Thiel. “That doesn't mean all of them will get approved, but a number of them will get approved. I don't think the SEC can play favorites and choose just one.”

The Marathon CEO added that it appears the SEC is going to approve an Ethereum futures ETF, “which, if they do, just increases the odds that they would potentially approve a spot Bitcoin ETF.”

“I'm fairly bullish personally. I think that odds that the SEC will approve it are better than fifty-fifty,” Thiel told Decrypt.

SEC needs ‘positive outcomes,’ says Thiel

According to Thiel, the level of institutional interest that exists today wouldn’t be there if the firms seeking to launch a Bitcoin ETF didn't feel it was possible.


Citing the case of the Prometheum exchange, a little-known crypto firm that raised eyebrows after the SEC surprisingly approved it as Special Purpose Broker-Dealer (SPBD) for digital asset securities, as well as Ripple partially winning the lawsuit filed by the agency in December 2020, Thiel said that the regulator is now under increased pressure from the Congress.

“I think the SEC needs to have some positive outcomes here, or else they're just going to be under even more pressure,” Thiel told Decrypt.

The SEC “needs to have the Coinbase case settled, so that they can at least say that they didn't lose it." And based on how the Ripple case so far has gone, "the likelihood is that the Coinbase case would likely go against them,” he told Decrypt.

Nevertheless, American investors still await any positive decisions from the SEC, with the recent delay on the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF application adding more frustration.

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