Solana ETF Applications Look Like Bets on Trump Retaking White House, Making U.S. Friendlier to Crypto

VanEck and 21Shares' applications seem doomed under the Biden administration. But they include a deadline that lapses when Trump would be in office, if he wins the presidency in November.

AccessTimeIconJun 28, 2024 at 4:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Jun 28, 2024 at 4:59 p.m. UTC
  • Two asset managers, VanEck and 21Shares, filed to launch solana ETFs this week.
  • They appear to be dead-on-arrival under Joe Biden, but a key deadline in the approval process would be next year, when Donald Trump, if he retakes the presidency, would be in office.
  • Given Trump's recent embrace of crypto, that increases the odds solana ETFs will get approved.

Asset manager VanEck wasted no time expanding its crypto exchange-traded fund journey, this week becoming the first firm to apply to create one tied to solana (SOL). Another firm, 21Shares, put in a request a day later.

Given how long the approval process will take, their decisions look like a wager that newly crypto-friendly Donald Trump will win the U.S. presidency in November and take office in January.

Although only bitcoin ETFs have been approved so far in the U.S. and funds – from VanEck and others – that seek to hold Ethereum's ether (ETH) aren't even fully approved yet, solana is a natural next step given it's one of the largest cryptocurrencies.

But it hasn't cleared a prerequisite for the Biden administration's Securities and Exchange Commission: a well-established regulated derivatives market. Both bitcoin and ether have had that in the form of CME Group's cryptocurrency futures contracts.

Now that Trump has warmed to digital assets and he's even accepting crypto donations for his campaign, that and any other potential objections may be moot.

“I think VanEck’s filing is a sort of call option on the November election,” James Seyffart, ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said during an interview conducted before 21Shares became the second solana applicant. “Under the current SEC administration – based on years of prior approval and denial orders for crypto ETFs – a solana ETF should be denied because there is no federally regulated futures market. But a new admin in the White House and a new SEC admin that’s more amenable to crypto policies could change that calculus.”

An ether ETF is awaiting final SEC approval, which could happen any day now, according to reports. But New York-based asset manager VanEck made its next move.

Timing plays a central role. VanEck submitted an S-1 filing for a potential SOL ETF on Thursday. That is needed when an entity is looking to offer a new security on the market. But the filing is meaningless if a second one, a 19b-4 form, isn’t submitted.

While a decision on an S-1 filing isn’t subject to a certain timeline, the SEC is forced to respond to a 19b-4 within 240 days. If VanEck were to file a 19b-4 for its solana ETF today, that deadline would be Feb. 25, 2025, a month into a potential Trump administration.

Current bets on Polymarket suggest that former Trump has a 67% chance of winning the presidential election in November against current President Joe Biden. The SEC under Biden has visibly been hard to convince to approve any crypto-related products; those that have been have taken years.

But a Trump administration would almost certainly replace current SEC Chair Gary Gensler and shake up its priorities.

“Given that CME-traded solana futures don’t currently exist, it seems the only viable path for spot solana ETF approval would be the implementation of a legitimate crypto regulatory framework that clearly defines which crypto assets are securities versus commodities – or for the SEC to agree with solana being designated as a non-security commodity," said Nate Geraci, president of the ETF Store, an investment advisory firm.

"In either case, the agency would also need comfortability around surveillance sharing agreements with currently unregulated spot crypto exchanges. All of that appears highly unlikely to happen under the current administration, which makes the VanEck and 21Shares filings likely bets on a more crypto-friendly government,” he said.

VanEck declined to comment on whether its filing for a SOL ETF was a bet on Trump or not.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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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.