Last week, Fidelity Investments made headlines by announcing plans to provide financial backing for a new Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) ETF, the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust. The fund will track the Fidelity Bitcoin Index and could potentially be the first cryptocurrency ETF listed on a major U.S. exchange.
Unfortunately, there is a long history of proposed Bitcoin ETFs that have been rejected by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has cited concerns over extreme volatility in Bitcoin prices and potential risks for investors. Yet Bitcoin investors are hopeful that new SEC Chairman Gary Gensler will be more open to cryptocurrency funds than his predecessor Jay Clayton.
Here’s a look back at the history of the major Bitcoin ETF proposals.
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July 2013: Shortly after the Winklevoss brothers proposed their ETF, SolidX filed a proposal for its own Bitcoin fund. Even after SolidX teamed up with popular fund manager VanEck, the proposal for the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust was officially withdrawn in January 2019.
July 2017: Grayscale officially filed an application for its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (OTCQX:GBTC) in July 2017. Three months later, Grayscale withdrew its application to the SEC and chose to list its fund on the OTC market.
September 2017: ETF specialist ProShares apple for two Bitcoin ETFs in September 2017 — the ProShares Bitcoin ETF and the ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF. Both proposals were rejected by the SEC along with seven other proposed Bitcoin ETFs in August 2018.
December 2017: Both Direxion and GraniteShares filed applications with the SEC for respective Bitcoin ETFs. Both were rejected in August 2018.
January 2019: Bitwise proposed the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF Trust in January 2019. The SEC rejected its proposal about nine months later.
January 2019: Wilshire Phoenix proposed a unique approach to a Bitcoin fund with the United States Bitcoin and Treasury Investment Trust. The company was hoping the funds investment in both Bitcoin and U.S. Treasury securities would win over the SEC, but the proposal was rejected in February 2020.
February 2019: Realty Shares ETF Trusts proposed a Bitcoin fund that would invest up to 25% of its total assets in Bitcoin futures contracts. The SEC forced the company to withdraw its proposal just two days later.
June 2020: WisdomTree submitted an application for a commodity fund that would invest up to 5% of its assets in Bitcoin futures. WisdomTree followed up by proposing a separate Bitcoin ETF just this month.
December 2020: SEC Chair Jay Clayton stepped down from his position. In January 2021, President Joe Biden nominated former chairman of the Commodity Future Trading Commission Gary Gensler as Clayton’s replacement.
December 2020: VanEck re-filed its application for a Bitcoin ETF. The new proposal marked the first filing following Clayton’s resignation. The SEC officially acknowledged the filing on March 15, giving the regulator 45 days to rule on the proposal or extend the 45-day review window.
January 2021: Valkyrie filed a new application for the Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund to be listed on the NYSE.
February 2021: NYDIG filed for approval of its own Bitcoin ETF on the same day the price of the cryptocurrency hit $50,000 for the first time.
March 2021: Fidelity filed for approval of the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust.
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