The SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) in the US has delayed the VanEck Bitcoin-based ETF approval/disapproval once again. However, a lot of positive outcomes was seen this time around. The Regulators doubts now surround the volume and range of Bitcoin markets, rather than its fundamental nature of being a digital currency.
VanEck has moved the ETF proposal as a commodity-based trust share which in this case in Bitcoin. The Commission noted that the decision has been delayed as the regulators are still unsure that the Bitcoin-ETF is
“designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade,” and “to protect investors and the public interest.”
SEC’s Concerns About the ETF
The SEC has laid down an 11 point, 39 questions long concerns that it still thinks can lead to disapproval of the ETF. The primary concerns of SEC included protection against insider trading and manipulation of markets by a single exchange or point in time.
According to the SEC, the Bitcoin market might still be susceptible to manipulation, and it isn’t of a “significant size” yet to deter fraudulent trading activities.
Recently, the Bitcoin Futures contract at Chicago Futures Exchange was discontinued. Moreover, the actual difference in the volume of spot Exchanges and futures contracts and now subsequently, the ETF must be determined as well.
Furthermore, ETF intends to enable trading of actual Bitcoins [BTC], which is significantly different than Bitcoin Futures Contracts. Hence, the effect of each on both is important to understand the underlying price discovery characteristics of Bitcoin.
Let us understand the difference between the types of commodity-based futures to understand SEC’s concerns. Gold and silver are market-based ETFs, i.e., real gold and silver are held in Trusts, and the spot prices determine the ETF price. However, oil-based ETFs rely on the futures market for price determination.
VanEck has proposed that its CboeBZX index will be backed by the OTC markets. According to VanEck,
“the OTC desks have a better measure of the market than any exchange-specific reference price, whether individually or indexed across multiple exchanges.”
Nevertheless, the SEC has doubts over this the OTC markets are small and ‘unidentified.’ They said,
“[OTC] has no formal structure and no open-outcry meeting place? Is the use of a non-public, proprietary index to value holdings based on OTC activity an appropriate means to calculate the NAV of an exchange-traded product (“ETP”)?”
Bitcoin’s market is active 24/7, hence, the SEC also wants to make sure that the network is large enough to deter all manipulative activities even when the ETF markets are closed. The questions on arbitrage included,
“Is the liquidity of the OTC bitcoin market is sufficient to support efficient arbitrage between the price of the Shares and the spot price of bitcoin?”
Last but not least, VanEck has moved the ETF citing its relationship with Gemini Exchange to provide necessary OTC market price. Hence, the SEC is also concerned about the quantum of the volume of trading on Gemini Exchange vs the rest of the world.
The questions are laid down for any interested party who wishes to contribute to clear the concerns. Moreover, it also indicates while Bitcoin is being accepted as an asset, more clarity on the volatility and markets is required for a successful ETF approval.
Do you wish to contribute to the research? Please share your views and findings with us.