The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is “taking a new look” at applications for a spot Bitcoin ETF, following October’s landmark court ruling on Grayscale’s application to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into an ETF.

In an interview with CNBC Thursday, Gensler said that the regulator is reviewing “between eight and a dozen filings.”

“We had in the past denied a number of these applications, but the courts here in the District of Columbia weighed in on that,” Gensler said. “And so we’re taking a new look at this based upon those court rulings.”

As the SEC chair, Gensler said, “I’m not to prejudge anything.” He went on to add that the commission works “within the laws Congress has passed and how the courts interpret them.”


Gensler went on to revisit a well-trodden furrow, calling the crypto space a “Wild West,” and highlighting crypto firms’ “noncompliance with the securities laws,” as well as “fraud and bad actors” in the space.

“This is a field where you still don’t have the fundamental information on many of these projects,” he said, adding that, “the intermediaries of the so-called crypto exchanges are commingling and doing things that we do not allow anywhere else in our financial system.”

The SEC and Bitcoin ETFs

The SEC has, to date, rejected every application for a spot Bitcoin ETF. But there are signs that the wind may be changing.

In October, the SEC was ordered to review Grayscale’s bid to convert GBTC into a spot Bitcoin ETF, after the U.S. court of appeals agreed with the firm’s argument that the regulator had been “arbitrary and capricious” in its judgment, given its acceptance of similarly structured Bitcoin futures ETF products.


It was subsequently revealed that the SEC was in active discussions with spot Bitcoin ETF applicants including Grayscale, BlackRock, and more recently Fidelity and Franklin Templeton. Earlier this week, BlackRock amended its application based on meetings with the SEC, making it easier for Wall Street banks to participate in its ETF by shifting risk to crypto market makers.

It’s all contributed to a growing sense of optimism among the crypto community that approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF is imminent—something that’s been stoked by analysts for Bloomberg and JP Morgan, both of whom see a strong chance of one or more ETFs being approved in January.

However, JP Morgan doesn’t expect an approval to move the crypto market, with a recent report arguing that approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF is unlikely to bring fresh capital to the market.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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