Ex-BlackRock Director Says SEC Will Approve a Bitcoin ETF in '3 to 6 Months'

Two former managing directors at BlackRock say that U.S. approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF is basically a done deal.

By Tim Hakki

3 min read

Former BlackRock managing director Steven Schoenfield, who’s now the CEO of MarketVector Indexes, gives the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission “three to six months” before it approves a Bitcoin spot ETF

Schoenfield gave his estimate during a panel discussion on ETFs at CCData’s Digital Asset Summit in London yesterday, where he was joined by another ex-BlackRock director Martin Bednall, now CEO of Jacobi Asset Management. 

Schoenfield was responding to comments made earlier by Bednall that “the SEC will probably approve [all ETF applications] at the same time; I don’t think they want to give anybody first mover advantage.” 

Previously the MarketVector CEO said he would have given the industry “nine to twelve months” before an approval, but the SEC’s recent decision to delay giving verdicts on several pending ETF applications is unlike previous delaying tactics by the regulator. 

“Instead of completely rejecting the whole list, they've asked for comments, which is a marginal but significant improvement in the dialogue,” says Shoenfield. “There's also the Grayscale lawsuit, which the SEC lost, which means they're most likely going to have to allow the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to be converted into an ETF.”

Blackrock, crypto and the Bitcoin ETF

Through its pending ETF application, traditional finance’s top asset manager, BlackRock—shepherding $9.42 trillion in assets-under-management (AUM)—seems the likeliest contender to get a Bitcoin spot ETF approved. 

After all, it has a winning score of 575-1 when it comes to getting ETFs through the SEC. 

Nobody would have seen it coming back in 2017 when BlackRock chief Larry Fink called Bitcoin an “index of money laundering.” 

Fast forward to summer 2023: Fink appeared on FOX News and said that crypto “is digitizing gold in many ways.” 

During CCData’s panel discussion in London yesterday, Martin Bednall said he believes in any case that the traditional financial muscle, in terms of both brand and resources, will give BlackRock a first-mover advantage should the SEC decide to start approving Bitcoin spot ETFs. 

Shoenfield was more temperate in his views about their former company’s foray into crypto.

“I disagree with my former colleague Martin. As much as Blackrock will try to crush the competition, there's a good half dozen, maybe eight or nine, other firms deeply committed to tradable digital assets," he said. "They've all got applications in and some are actually much closer to the crypto ecosystem than than BlackRock. So I think Blackrock will be in for quite a fight.” 

He later added that his company has run the numbers and believes spot ETF approval may result in a “$150 to $200 billion inflow” into Bitcoin investment products over three years, which would “double or triple the amount of AUM in current Bitcoin products.”

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