- Despite optimism, SEC likely to reject more bitcoin ETF applications before approval due to need to improve market structure and prevent exchange/custodian conflicts.
- SEC wants crypto exchanges separated from custodians, a lesson from the FTX debacle where the CEO tried combining multiple functions.
- Though bitcoin is steadily rising, industry experts believe the SEC will reject more ETFs before finally approving one, with a 90% chance of approval by early 2024.
Mike Belshe, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange BitGo, believes the outlook is positive for approval of a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). However, in a recent interview with Bloomberg, Belshe cautioned that the journey ahead likely won’t be smooth sailing.
The Need for Improved Market Structure
According to Belshe, the discussions taking place between firms seeking bitcoin ETF approval and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicate the agency is moving in the direction of approval. However, he stressed that improving the market structure is a prerequisite for the SEC granting ultimate approval of a bitcoin ETF.
Belshe reiterated the SEC’s position on separating crypto exchanges from custodians, emphasizing this condition needs to be addressed before approvals are granted.
No Repeat of FTX Debacle
Furthermore, Belshe referenced Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the now-defunct crypto exchange FTX. He claimed Bankman-Fried was trying to make FTX a multifaceted operation. Belshe stated, “15 months ago we had Sam Bankman-Fried marching all over Washington DC advocating his seven key points of regulations. He basically said let me take on all these functions, it is going to be great, it is going to be efficient.”
The Path Forward
There are currently 12 asset management firms waiting to hear outcomes for bitcoin ETF applications. According to Bloomberg analyst James Seyffart, there’s a 90% chance of approvals by January 10, 2024.
In the meantime, bitcoin continues holding steady near 18-month highs, surpassing its bear market trading range. While optimism remains for SEC approval of a spot bitcoin ETF, industry leaders like Belshe caution more rejections are likely before the agency finally gives the green light.