SEC Approval of Spot Bitcoin ETF Is Unlikely to Be a Game Changer for Crypto Markets: JPMorgan

Such ETFs have existed for some time in Canada and Europe, but have failed to attract large investor interest, the report said.

AccessTimeIconJul 7, 2023 at 8:51 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 5:01 p.m. UTC

Any U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approval of a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) will not be a game changer for crypto markets for a number of reasons, JPMorgan (JPM) said in a research report Thursday.

While the SEC has yet to approve such an ETF – despite receiving numerous applications – there is now more optimism the regulator will approve one because some of the previous concerns are assumed to have been addressed in recent filings, JPMorgan said.

“Spot bitcoin ETFs [have] existed for some time outside the U.S., in Canada and Europe, but have failed to attract large investor interest,” analysts led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote.

A unit of BlackRock filed paperwork last month for the formation of a spot bitcoin ETF, prompting other asset managers such as Invesco and Wisdom Tree to apply or reapply as well.

“Bitcoin funds overall, including futures based and physically backed funds, have attracted little investor interest since Q2 2021, also failing to benefit from investor outflows from gold ETFs over the past year or so,” the report said.

Physical backed bitcoin ETFs offer some advantages over futures-based funds, but these are rather marginal, the note said. Spot ETFs offer a more direct and secure way to gain exposure to bitcoin, removing some of the complexities around direct custody and transfer of BTC and the basis risk associated with futures-based products.

“Spot ETFs are more likely than futures based ETFs to reflect real time supply and demand and their approval in the U.S. would bring more liquidity and enhance price transparency in spot bitcoin markets,” the report added.

The introduction of spot bitcoin ETFs could lead to a migration of trading activity and liquidity away from U.S. bitcoin futures markets, “to the extent spot bitcoin ETFs replace futures-based bitcoin ETFs,” the bank said.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Will Canny is CoinDesk's finance reporter.