As Bitcoin continues to rally past the $8,000 barrier, the SEC has postponed its decision to approve the five Bitcoin ETFs filed by Direxion Investments in January. At that time, the company requested approval for one ETF pegged to Bitcoin’s price, and four additional ETFs, based on Bitcoin’s price movements.
The SEC’s expected decision on July 24th may have contributed to the bullish trend of Bitcoin recently. However, the commission will push this decision out to September, according to the Federal Register, released by the GPO (US Government Publishing Office). The SEC stated, “The Commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change.”
In the process to either approve or disapprove the Direxion ETFs, the SEC received just two submitted comments. All five Direxion Daily Bitcoin ETFs were up for comment, including the Bitcoin Bear 1X and 2X Shares, as well as the 1.25X, 1.5X and 2X Bull Shares.
The first comment, submitted by Steven A. Williams was dated May 17, 2018. According to his letter, two requirements needed to be met before the ETF shares could be listed and traded. The fund’s sponsor would first need to procure an SEC exemptive order, and then the exchange would need to obtain SEC approval through a rule filing. He went on to suggest that the public could not comment meaningfully on the ETFs without additional disclosures, and included five additional points on relief and compliance monitoring.
The second comment, in the form of a six-page memo, was submitted by Sharon Brown-Hruska, Ph. D. and Trevor Wagener, M.S. of NERA Economic Consulting. The group suggested analyzing settlement methods for existing Cboe and CME Bitcoin futures. They also said that the Bitcoin market is still developing, and followed this by an extensive list of research, analysis and recommendations.
While these Bitcoin ETFs have garnered support among investors, Wall Street strategists have expressed their concerns. In an interview with CNBC, Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Atlantis Asset Management said, “That would be insane for them to actually approve this. Then they’re putting a rubber stamp on it as an asset, and I don’t think governments want to go there yet.”
Cohn’s bearish attitude towards the digital currency market was met with a similar attitude from DataTrek Research co-founder, Nick Colas who said, “Can you imagine what a 2X bitcoin put or call is going to do? It’s going to be amazing volatility.”
Colas compared the volatility of Bitcoin to the relative stability of traditional markets. While these statements should give regulators pause in their decision-making process, it should be noted that digital currencies have a combined market cap of over $300 billion according to CoinMarketCap, not including the huge sums invested in ICOs this year.
While the Direxion Bitcoin ETFs are pending further analysis by the SEC, other ETF proposals are still being discussed, including those filed by VanEck and SolidX.