Once again, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has hit the pause button on a high-stakes decision. The proposed ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF, once on the cusp of approval, now finds itself in the waiting room until the dawn of the new year on January 10th, 2024.
The SEC has also deferred its decision on the proposed Global X Bitcoin Trust to November 21st, potentially indicating further delays for additional applications related to spot Bitcoin funds.
This move comes after the regulatory body delayed the ARK Invest and 21Shares fund approval last month, requesting new written comments. Initially, the SEC had set a deadline of August 13th to either approve, disapprove, or initiate proceedings regarding the application. However, in a recent filing, the Commission stated that it requires more time to evaluate the proposed rule change thoroughly.
According to the filing, the proposal to list and trade shares of the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF was submitted by Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc. on April 25th. The Commission had designated an extended review period for this proposal on June 15th, 2023; subsequently, several amendments were filed by the Exchange in June and July. On August 11th, 2023, the Commission initiated proceedings under Section 19(b)(2)(B) of the Act to determine the fate of the proposal.
The SEC’s rules dictate that after initiating such proceedings, the Commission must issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change within 180 days from the date of the proposal’s publication. However, the Commission has the authority to extend this period by up to 60 days if deemed necessary, with reasons provided. In light of these considerations, the SEC has chosen to extend the time period for the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF proposal.
Lawmakers Urge Urgent Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval
Notably, this delay coincides with the recent appeal from a group of bipartisan lawmakers, urging SEC Chair Gary Gensler to expedite the approval of a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund. The SEC’s decision to delay the Global X Bitcoin Trust proposal to November 21st suggests that similar delays may be expected for other applications concerning spot Bitcoin funds.
The delay in approving spot BTC ETFs raises concerns among lawmakers, who argue that the SEC is applying inconsistent and discriminatory standards by approving ETFs linked to crypto futures but not those tied to spot investment vehicles. Currently, the SEC has not granted approval for any spot BTC ETF to be listed on a U.S.-based exchange.
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