SEC Delays Decision on Wilshire Phoenix Bitcoin ETF Proposal

The SEC has delayed making a decision on the Wilshire Phoenix bitcoin and U.S. Treasury bonds ETF proposal.

AccessTimeIconSep 24, 2019 at 4:23 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 4:04 p.m. UTC

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun proceedings to determine whether it should approve a proposed bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

According to a public filing published Tuesday, the SEC has begun evaluating the proposed rule change to allow NYSE Arca to list and trade shares of Wilshire Phoenix's Bitcoin and Treasury Investment Trust. The companies first filed the rule change proposal in May.

The ETF would give investors exposure to both bitcoin and U.S. Treasury bonds. The SEC listed a number of questions for the general public, including what individuals think of the suggestion that the CME bitcoin reference rate is not susceptible to manipulation.

The SEC began taking comments on the proposal in June, and records show that only six individuals have submitted responses, both in support of and against allowing a bitcoin ETF.

(One comment appears exasperated with the process, with an anonymous submitter writing only, "FOR GOD SAKE just approve this bitcoin etf --- THIS IS BEEN GOING ON FOREVER...")

According to another public filing, Wilshire Phoenix executives, NYSE Arca employees and members of the Seward & Kissel law firm met with SEC staffers earlier in September.

Upcoming deadlines

The SEC faces a final deadline to approve or disapprove a bitcoin ETF proposed by Bitwise Asset Management in the middle of October.

The company has filed a number of reports with the SEC in an effort to convince the regulator that the bitcoin market is mature enough to support such a product. It remains unclear whether the regulators are convinced of this fact, however. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton recently said that, while the bitcoin market has made steps to mature, there is still “work to be done” before a bitcoin ETF can be approved.

VanEck and SolidX, which also faced a mid-October deadline, pulled their joint bitcoin ETF proposal earlier this month. VanEck Director of Digital Asset Strategies Gabor Gurbacs later said that bringing such a product "remains a top priority," though he did not indicate if the companies would file the ETF proposal for a third time (the proposal was previously withdrawn during the prolonged government shutdown at the beginning of 2018).

Regarding the Wilshire Phoenix proposal, the SEC has a legally mandated 180 days from the date the filing was first published in the Federal Register to make a decision. The 180-day countdown began July 1, which gives the Commission until Dec 28, 2019, to make a decision.

Correction (Sept. 25, 17:10 UTC): The SEC has 180 days from the date the filing was originally published in the Federal Register to decide on the Wilshire Phoenix bitcoin ETF proposal, not 35 days from now, as was previously reported. Once the 180 days have passed, the SEC can extend the deadline for up to an additional 60 days, according to a Wilshire Phoenix representative.

SEC image via Shutterstock


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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