Bitcoin ETF Approval Odds Just Got Better: Bloomberg Analysts

They now see a 65% chance a U.S. spot bitcoin ETF will launch this year, up from 50% previously.

AccessTimeIconAug 2, 2023 at 4:02 p.m. UTC
Updated Aug 2, 2023 at 4:34 p.m. UTC
  • ETF analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence raised their estimates for the launch of a U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) to 65% from 50%.
  • The analysts said the SEC's seeming approval of Coinbase’s bitcoin trading platform is one positive indication; another is SEC Chairman Gary Gensler downplaying his role in a recent interview.

ETF analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence raised their estimates for the approval and launch of at least one spot bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the U.S. this year.

“The odds of a spot Bitcoin ETF launching this year are up to 65%, in our eyes, after a flurry of developments,” analysts James Seyffart and Eric Balchunas wrote. They previously assigned a 50% probability.

Several major institutions, among them BlackRock, Fidelity, WisdomTree and Valkyrie, have in recent months filed applications for a spot bitcoin ETF to make investing in bitcoin more accessible. While the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has in the past rejected such applications, many experts say there is a good chance that at least some of the applications will get approved, especially that of BlackRock, which has rarely been denied an ETF application in the past.

Contributing to the more optimistic outlook is an observation that SEC Chairman Gary Gensler downplayed his role at the agency in a recent interview with Bloomberg, emphasizing, when asked about crypto-related matters, that there are four other commissioners.

“The deflection seemed a change in the way he normally handles these topics,” the note said, pointing out that while there are five members, the chair has far more control and it would be unusual if the two other Democratic commissioners were to make a different decision. “We believe this may be a signal that aspects of the anti-crypto stance are becoming politically untenable for Gensler.”

Another positive development is the SEC’s seeming approval of Coinbase’s bitcoin trading platform, with CEO Brian Armstrong being told to delist all cryptocurrencies except bitcoin.

“This solidifies our view that if the SEC is going to bend anywhere on crypto ETFs, it will be with regard to bitcoin ETFs,” Seyffart and Balchanus wrote. Coinbase acts as the most prominent surveillance-sharing agreement partner and custodian in many of the current filings.

Lastly, the SEC’s case against crypto asset manager Grayscale could be a catalyst if the SEC loses in court, which Bloomberg expects to be the case. Grayscale, like CoinDesk, is owned by Digital Currency Group.

The SEC last year turned down the asset manager's request to convert the biggest bitcoin trust into an ETF, and Grayscale sued over that decision. If the asset manager wins the case, the easiest move for the SEC would be to approve all outstanding bitcoin ETF applications, the analysts said.

“One caveat to our line of thinking is Gensler’s oft-stated disdain for the current makeup of crypto trading markets,” the analysts wrote. Gensler has repeatedly stressed some of the negative aspects of crypto in the past, including fraud, manipulation and abuse.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Helene Braun

Helene is a New York-based reporter covering Wall Street, the rise of the spot bitcoin ETFs and crypto exchanges. She is also the co-host of CoinDesk's Markets Daily show. Helene is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News, YahooFinance and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.