The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is examining an application from the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Global Markets which, if approved, could grant the company a coveted bitcoin ETF license, and bring new waves of institutional investors to the bitcoin arena.
The process began in June 2018, when the SEC recently sought comments from industry professionals regarding the ETF in question, which is being offered through the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust – a joint venture between financial firms VanEck and SolidX. The application is the Trust’s third attempt to garner any such license; the first two attempts were rejected in early 2017, upon which the SEC released the following statement:
“Based on the record before it, the Commission believes that the significant markets for bitcoin are unregulated. Therefore, the Commission does not find the proposed rule change to be consistent with the Exchange Act.”
The cryptocurrency space remains largely unmonitored, and the SEC has sought to take a firm stance to ensure consumer protection and safety. After much debate and speculation, however, officials recently decided that both bitcoin and Ethereum – despite its early pre-sale (now ICO) status – were too decentralized to be considered securities, and could not be regulated by the organization.
Regulators of the SEC also announced in late June that they were working on an outline for newer (and less-restrictive) legislation regarding open-ended and low-risk ETFs to increase innovation in the financial space. This could potentially boost the Trust’s chances, along with other ventures seeking to establish bitcoin ETFs in the future.
Granted the VanEck SolidX application moves forward, clients will be able to purchase shares in the Trust, which are worth approximately 25 bitcoins each at press time. Following a period of speculation from interested professionals, the application has now been published for public viewing and commentary, so regulators can better understand if the venture is worth acting on.
“[The ETF], under normal market conditions, will use available offering proceeds to purchase bitcoin primarily in the OTC markets without being leveraged or exceeding relevant position limits,” the Trust’s application reads. It also states that an insurance policy will be set in place, granted theft or cyber attacks occur. Thus, investors can rest assured that their funds will be covered in the event of a loss:
“The insurance policy will carry initial limits of $25 million in primary coverage and $100 million in excess coverage, with the ability to increase coverage depending on the value of the bitcoins held by the Trust.”
Several financial giants have commented that bitcoin-based ETFs are crucial to financial innovation, with companies like JP Morgan calling them the “holy grail for owners and investors” back in February 2018. Should CBOE’s application be passed, client investment options will open in the first quarter of 2019.