Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected plans for the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF (COIN). Several weeks later, the SEC rebuffed plans for the SolidX Bitcoin ETF.
Following the ruling against the SolidX Bitcoin ETF, the SEC said, "The Commission is disapproving this proposed rule change because it does not find the proposal to be consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Exchange Act, which requires, among other things, that the rules of a national securities exchange be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices and to protect investors and the public interest." (See also: Why Is the SEC Afraid of Bitcoin ETFs?)
The rejections faced by the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF and the SolidX Bitcoin ETF are not preventing rival issuers from giving the bitcoin arena a look. VanEck, the ninth largest U.S. issuer of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), has filed plans with the SEC for an actively managed bitcoin ETF.
"The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing, under normal circumstances, in U.S. exchanged-trade bitcoin-derivatives instruments and pooled investment vehicles and exchanged-traded products that provide exposure to bitcoin," according to a VanEck filing with the SEC. "The Fund is an actively managed exchanged-traded fund and should not be confused with one that is designed to track the performance of a specified index. The Fund's strategy seeks to provide total return by actively managing the Fund's investments in Bitcoin Investments."
The VanEck filing comes as bitcoin continues its staggering year-to-date ascent. The cryptocurrency topped $3,600 on Friday. That comes after bitcoin was trading at around $2,700 on July 23. Today, a $1,000 investment made in bitcoin in 2010 would be worth north of $70 million. (See also: Bitcoin's Price Crosses $4,000.)
While bitcoin ETFs have faced a tough road with the SEC, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) recently granted LedgerX permission to operate a bitcoin derivatives exchange, meaning options traders will be able to trade calls and puts on the digital currency this fall.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are moving forward with plans to bring the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF to market and are currently working with the SEC again to that effect. Some bitcoin market observers believe that the debut of bitcoin options coupled with a recent change in leadership at the SEC financial products approval division could bode well for bitcoin ETF efforts. (See also: SEC Denies Winklevoss Bid to Launch Bitcoin ETFs in Surprise Upset.)
As for the VanEck bitcoin fund, the filing does not include a ticker or expense ratio, perhaps indicating that the product is not close to coming to market. Currently, investors can access bitcoin via the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), which trades over-the-counter. GBTC "enables investors to gain exposure to the price movement of bitcoin through a traditional investment vehicle, without the challenges of buying, storing, and safekeeping bitcoins," according to its issuer. (See also: How Do Bitcoin Investors Combat Price Volatility?)