CBOE Kicks Off Bitcoin ETF Clock With VanEck Filing

The SEC now has 45 days to either approve or disapprove the application, or extend the review period.

Mar 1, 2021 at 11:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:19 p.m. UTC

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) has officially filed to list shares of VanEck's bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

CBOE filed a Form 19b-4 Monday, formally announcing its intention to list and trade shares of the VanEck Bitcoin Trust. The form kicks off the legal review period that could lead to the first bitcoin ETF in the U.S.

While CBOE filing a 19b-4 starts the formal regulatory review process, the SEC still has to acknowledge it is reviewing the application before the first 45-day clock begins. Within those 45 days, the SEC has to either approve or disapprove the application, or extend the review period.

The SEC can extend the review period up to 240 days before it has to make a final decision. Historically, the SEC has rejected every bitcoin ETF application, including previous efforts by VanEck.

Industry participants say a bitcoin ETF will allow retail traders to invest in a regulated bitcoin product without needing to invest in the cryptocurrency directly. Institutions may also be more willing to invest in a bitcoin ETF than in the cryptocurrency for compliance or reporting reasons.

VanEck announced its intention to launch an ETF earlier this year, as did Valkyrie, another investment firm.

While a bitcoin ETF does not currently trade within the U.S., Canadian regulators have approved multiple bitcoin ETFs over the past month, with one seeing close to $1 billion invested by retail traders within its first few days.

The approval of a Canadian ETF is likely a signal the SEC will approve one in the U.S. this year as well, said Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas.

Bitcoin's market "is approximately 100 times larger" in 2021 than it was in 2016, the CBOE/VanEck application said, with regulated bitcoin futures representing approximately $28 billion in notional trading volume on CME.

UPDATE (March 1, 2021, 23:20 UTC): Updated with additional context.

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