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February 24, 2024

Bitcoin ETF Hopes Dashed After SEC Rejects Spot Bitcoin ETF Proposals

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Jan 5, 2024

The cryptocurrency market was thrown into turmoil this week after a report claimed that the SEC has rejected spot Bitcoin ETF proposals from asset managers including Fidelity and BlackRock. Bitcoin saw a steep drop from over $45,000 down to $41,000 on the news, while the overall crypto market cap shed over $100 billion.

Lead Up To The ETF Decision

For years, getting SEC approval for a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund has been viewed as a holy grail for the crypto industry. A spot Bitcoin ETF would allow mainstream investors easy access to Bitcoin through traditional brokerage accounts, likely leading to significant new inflows.

Several major asset managers including Fidelity, BlackRock and Grayscale have filed proposals in recent months for spot Bitcoin ETFs. Expectations were high that 2024 could finally be the year a spot Bitcoin ETF is approved, especially after crypto-friendly officials were appointed to key regulatory roles.

There was a surge of optimism on January 3rd when Grayscale tweeted that its spot Bitcoin ETF filing is “subject to effectiveness”, suggesting it could get approved imminently. Other analysts noted both Fidelity and Grayscale have been quietly updating their filings over recent weeks.

Asset Manager Type of ETF
Fidelity Spot Bitcoin ETF
Grayscale Spot Bitcoin ETF
BlackRock Spot Bitcoin ETF
Galaxy Digital Bitcoin Futures ETF

With the SEC required to make a decision on pending spot Bitcoin ETF proposals by mid-January, anticipation and excitement had been building across the crypto industry at the prospect that the long wait could soon be over.

Report Claims SEC Rejection

Hopes for an imminent Bitcoin spot ETF approval were abruptly dashed on January 4th however. Influential Asia-based crypto lending firm Matrixport published a report stating the SEC is set to reject all spot Bitcoin ETF applications filed to date.

The Matrixport report claimed sources suggest the SEC has concerns around deficiencies in aspects of the Bitcoin spot market infrastructure. Issues cited include insufficient surveillance-sharing agreements, volatility in futures pricing, low trading volumes on regulated platforms relative to offshore exchanges, and the risk of manipulation.

While doubts were initially raised about the accuracy of the report, negative sentiment snowballed as traders reacted. Over $400 million worth of positions were liquidated in less than two hours, plunging the Bitcoin price from $45,500 down below $41,000. Some traders are accusing Matrixport of spreading fake news to profit from the market fall it triggered.

Responses To The Report

The SEC has made no official announcement regarding its decision on pending Bitcoin spot ETF proposals. Until that changes, industry experts urge caution about reacting too strongly to unofficial sources.

Other analysts have questioned the logic behind claims the spot market is too illiquid or volatile to support an ETF. They argue improvements to market infrastructure and surveillance capabilities, combined with growing transparency, make such concerns outdated.

Cboe Digital president Bryan Harkins stated he is confident the SEC recognizes progress on regulatory issues, and expects approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs in 2024.

Not everyone believes rejection is guaranteed either. A Bitwise poll found 39% of financial advisors think a spot Bitcoin ETF could still get approved within the next 12 months.

Meanwhile SEC officials held talks with executives from stock exchanges after the Matrixport report was published to potentially finalize guidance on Bitcoin ETF proposals. The official outcome of those discussions could determine if a spot Bitcoin ETF approval is still on the cards for 2024.

Market Impacts If ETF Proposals Rejected

If the Matrixport report proves accurate and the SEC rejects all pending spot Bitcoin ETF applications, it would come as a major setback for the crypto industry.

The launch of a Bitcoin spot ETF has long been one of the most anticipated catalysts expected to drive mainstream adoption and fresh inflows into the crypto market. Blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis previously estimated a spot Bitcoin ETF could potentially attract up to $300 billion worth of investments in its first year.

Other analysts have warned rejection could see Bitcoin testing below $20,000, reversing much of the bull market recovery from mid-2022 lows.

On the other hand, some traders believe the severity of the latest selloff may be overdone. They argue skepticism about the ETF prospects was already widely priced into the market.

Rather than spelling disaster, a rejection could instead remove ongoing regulatory uncertainty and allow the focus to shift back to Bitcoin’s technological development. Innovation and infrastructure improvements would continue laying the foundations for an ETF approval further down the track.

What’s Next For Bitcoin ETF Hopes

While the Matrixport report dented confidence, experienced ETF analysts say it’s definitely not “game over” yet for Bitcoin spot ETF approval this year.

Further volatility and nervous selling are expected in the interim as investors anxiously await official confirmation from the SEC. An extension allowing more time to resolve concerns could also emerge as a compromise outcome.

Irrespective of the short term ETF decision, industry leaders remain staunchly optimistic about the long term growth trajectory for Bitcoin and crypto more broadly.

Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz declared “big things are coming”, tweeting he has “high confidence 2024 will be epic for crypto adoption and markets”.

Fidelity entering the race could be a gamechanger too. As the largest provider of retirement accounts, analysts say Fidelity adding Bitcoin to its offerings would immediately put crypto exposure into the hands of millions more Americans.

While the road to a spot Bitcoin ETF is proving rocky, there remains hope the crypto industry can satisfy regulators to unlock this key gateway for mainstream adoption. The next few weeks promise to determine whether the long wait may soon be over, or if hopes must be pinned on another year.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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