Investment firm VanEck has filed another application to launch a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) for trading at the CBOE BZX Exchange. The New York-based company has filed multiple applications for a Bitcoin ETF in the past, and its latest attempt comes at a time of surging Bitcoin (BTCUSD) prices and greater interest by institutional investors in the cryptocurrency.

VanEck's latest Bitcoin ETF SEC filing is its strangest one yet. The document does not provide much detail about its product or the firm's partners for the ETF. While VanEck tied up with the The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BK) for custody services for proposed Bitcoin ETFs in the past, the current filing makes no mention of custodians or transfer agents or marketing agents for the ETF.

Key Takeaways

  • Investment firm VanEck has filed a Bitcoin ETF, but the application provides little detail about the product or its workings.
  • According to commentators, 2022 is a more likely timeframe for approval of a Bitcoin ETF.

Appearing on CNBC, VanEck CEO Jan van Eck said that the firm's decision to file for an ETF this time around was based on a "couple of rays of hope." First, he pointed to last month's guidance issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on crypto custody. In the guidance, the federal agency promised to withhold enforcement action against crypto custodians for five years provided they followed standards enumerated in the document.

Van Eck also nodded toward regulatory developments in Canada, where regulators have approved a crypto fund a crypto fund targeted at retail investors. The CEO's current position is an about face from his stance last year. During an interview with Bloomberg last January, he said that he didn't see "a Bitcoin ETF being approved anytime soon."

Will VanEck Succeed This Time?

VanEck has a history of filing for and withdrawing Bitcoin ETF applications. In January 2018, the firm withdrew a Bitcoin ETF application based on futures prices for the cryptocurrency at CBOE. It filed for and withdrew another Bitcoin ETF application in September 2019. After withdrawal of that application, the investment firm launched a trust aimed at Qualified Institutional Buyers. It wouldn't be surprising if the firm again withdrew its application prior to a formal rejection.

The SEC has rejected numerous past attempts by cryptocurrency investment firms to launch a Bitcoin ETF. It outlined concerns about the cryptocurrency ecosystem in a widely circulated online letter in January 2018. That letter and subsequent rejection statements made it clear that the agency considered crypto prices, which are required to set ETF share prices, at underlying crypto exchanges prone to manipulation.

Van Eck told CNBC that his firm was constructing indices from regulatory exchanges with "some kind of regulatory exposure." The ETF application proposes to use the MVIS CryptoCompare Benchmark Rate launched last year with a regulated Swiss bank. Beyond that detail, however, not much is known about VanEck's product or plans for the proposed ETF.

"What the SEC wanted to do three to four years ago was to let the (crypto) industry mature," Dave Nadig, chief investment officer at ETF Trends, told CNBC. He added that 2022 is a more likely timeframe for approval of a Bitcoin ETF.