Cryptocurrency startup Bitwise Asset Management has recently revealed it filed an initial registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch a physically-settled bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).
The move, announced through a press release, would see the proposed Bitwise Bitcoin ETF track the Bitwise Bitcoin Total Return Index, which tracks the flagship cryptocurrency’s performance, along with that of “meaningful hard forks.”
If the SEC approves the ETF, it’ll be traded on NYSE Arca, which focuses on trading stocks and options rather than large-cap stocks, traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Per Bitwise’s press release, the ETF differs from previously filed ones as it will rely on “regulated third party custodians to hold its physical bitcoin.”
Moreover, the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF would draw its prices from a “large number of cryptocurrency exchanges, representing the majority of currently verifiable bitcoin trading.” NYSE Arca is expected to file the application “in the coming days.”
In a statement contained in the press release, Bitwise global head of Exchange-Traded Funds John Hyland stated the SEC may not grant the application, and added:
Having a regulated bank or trust company hold physical assets of a fund has been the standard under U.S. fund regulation for the last 80 years, and we believe that is now possible with bitcoin.
In the document Hyland revealed the firm is “optimistic” this year should see a bitcoin ETF launch. Matt Hougan, Bitwise’s Global Head of Research, added that the SEC has asked “asked thoughtful and relevant questions about the quality of the crypto trading ecosystem, the reliability of crypto pricing, the strength of the arbitrage function in crypto and the robustness of crypto custody.
Hougan noted this year’s proposal was made based on the SEC’s questions, as the team behind it “spent the past year researching” them. Currently, the SEC has one bitcoin ETF rule change proposal on its hands, filed by VanEck and SolidX last year. A decision on it has been delayed numerous times, and should come on February 27 of this year.
Last year, the SEC rejected nine bitcoin ETF proposals: two from ProShares, five from Direxion, and two form GraniteShares. All of these were based on bitcoin futures, rather than the “physical” bitcoin.