SEC Again Rejects a Slew of Bitcoin ETFs

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dealt another blow to the bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) concept Wednesday, rejecting plans for nine ETFs from three issuers tied to the cryptocurrency. The SEC rejected plans for two futures-based bitcoin ETFs from ProShares, two funds from GraniteShares, and plans for five inverse and leveraged ETFs from Direxion.

"The SEC emphasized that the disapproval does not rest on an evaluation of whether bitcoin or blockchain technology has value as an innovation or investment," reports CNBC. (See also: What Is the Difference Between Blockchain ETFs and Bitcoin ETFs?)

Wednesday's bitcoin ETF rejections come two weeks after the SEC delayed a decision on the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust ETF (XBTC). That fund, assuming it comes to market, would track an index of bitcoin trading desks and debut with a share price of $200,000. The SEC is expected to approve or disapprove that application on Sept. 30.

Late last month, the SEC rejected an application for the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, the ongoing effort from Winklevoss Capital Management founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to bring an ETF based on the largest digital currency to market. The SEC has continually cited fraud and investor protection concerns in rebuffing bitcoin ETF applications.

The commission said the New York Stock Exchange Arca (NYSE Arca), which was looking to list the ProShares funds, has yet to meet a stipulation "that a national securities exchange's rules be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices."

Currently, no bitcoin ETFs trade in the U.S., but the Bitcoin Tracker One and BTC ETN (CXBTF), an exchange-traded note (ETN) that originated in Sweden, recently launched in the U.S. Bitcoin futures debuted in the U.S. last December and were expected to play a critical role in facilitating the launch of futures-based ETFs, but the SEC appears to be looking for that market to become more robust.

"Among other things, the Exchange has offered no record evidence to demonstrate that bitcoin futures markets are 'markets of significant size,'" said the commission. "That failure is critical because, as explained below, the Exchange has failed to establish that other means to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices will be sufficient, and therefore surveillance-sharing with a regulated market of significant size related to bitcoin is necessary." (For additional reading, check out: Bitcoin ETFs Explained.)

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