SEC’s Hester Peirce on Bitcoin ETF Approval: “Maybe Tomorrow or in 20 Years, Don’t Hold Your Breath”


Exchange traded funds (ETFs), as a whole, have been rising in popularity since they were first brought to the traditional finance market in 1993. The assets accounted for with ETFs amount to well over $4 trillion. Recently, Bitcoin ETFs have been a big topic in the cryptocurrency market and with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for quite some time. Though many have initiated applications, the SEC has been less than willing to engage.

A perfect example of this unwillingness was with the Gemini crypto exchange, who attempted twice to gain the approval of the SEC to get the first Bitcoin ETF. Though the SEC commented at the time that their rejection had nothing to do with their faith in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, they seemed greatly concerned with market manipulation, fraud, and investor protection.

Not to be deterred, VanEck also pursued permission to have a physically-supported Bitcoin ETF, joining the efforts made by SolidX in June of this year. Their sessions were continually delayed until they finally were able to meet last month, based on a memorandum on November 28th. According to reports, there were concerns of comparing Bitcoin to a commodity, like silver or gold. The presentation appears to have gone well, though the only thing available to the public right now are the details of the meeting, which haven’t decided on a Bitcoin ETF.

According to SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce, as quoted by Frank Chaparro on Twitter, “Don’t hold your breath.” She expressed that consumers should “not live or die on when a crypto or Bitcoin ETF gets approved.” She spoke about the efforts she is making to convince others to maintain an open mind, suggesting that institutionalization is a more likely future. Chaparro suggested that this discussion happened at a crypto conference in the country’s capital recently. He is a writer for The Block.

Considering the remarks made by SEC Chairman Jay Clayton only a week ago, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these decisions are being delayed indefinitely. At the Consensus Invest Conference, he noted,

“What investors expect is that trading in the commodity that underlies that ETF makes sense and is free from the risk of manipulation. It's an issue that needs to be addressed before I would be comfortable.”

Another issue is surveillance, which traditional exchanges already have. However,

“those kinds of safeguards do not exist currently in all of the exchange venues where digital currencies trade,”

Clayton said.

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