All Spot-Bitcoin ETF Applications May be Approved Together, Crypto ETF Expert Predicts

Barton's application expertise comes from a recent history of pulling off two regulatory firsts of sorts.

AccessTimeIconOct 23, 2023 at 5:41 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 2:00 a.m. UTC

All applications to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for spot bitcoin exchange-traded-funds (ETFs) may be approved together, predicts crypto ETF expert, Volatility Shares Chief Investment Officer Stuart Barton.

Barton's company has already secured one bitcoin ETF first – in June, his company, Volatility Shares’ 2x Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITX), became the first leveraged crypto ETF available in the U.S.

Volatility Shares was also the first to file an application for an ether (ETH) futures-based ETF. The SEC had not approved any of the many previous applicants, but despite this, other companies followed Volatility Shares in applying for an ether futures ETF.

Many of these began trading in October, but despite SEC approval, Barton's team did not launch their ether ETF.

"We applied first but didn't get the first mover advantage when all applications were approved in one go," Barton told CoinDesk in a phone interview. "This is a precedent-setting event that could be replicated by the SEC in its considerations of spot-bitcoin ETFs."

To be sure, Barton's entity can still launch its ether ETF. Given the slow start of ether ETFs – less than $2 million were traded on the first day with poor volumes continuing throughout the week – Barton and team may reinvent their product.

"We could launch any day we wanted but now we have the opportunity to figure out why these ether ETFs are so unpopular," Barton said. "It's weird. Why are ether ETFs so much less popular than bitcoin's launch of a billion dollars in two days? It is now possible for us to wait and make a very small change in our design and we will keep that perspective until we decide exactly what we want to do with it."

The excitement around spot-bitcoin ETFs has been building up and has hit retail investors. CoinBase said the spot-bitcoin ETF approval is already partially priced in, but when a false news report stated BlackRock's spot-bitcoin application had been approved, bitcoin (BTC) surged from $27,900 to $30,000, with nearly $100 million in liquidations in an hour. JPMorgan said the approval of the spot bitcoin ETFs should happen within months, and probably before Jan. 10, the final deadline for the Ark 21Shares application.

Bloomberg Intelligence analysts and ARK Investment Management’s Cathie Wood seem to agree with Barton in saying that all spot-bitcoin ETF applications could be approved simultaneously. Barton's unique take comes not only from the experience of failing to get the first mover advantage despite being the first to apply for an ether ETF but also because he feels that by successfully approving all ether ETFs in one go, the SEC won the public litmus test, without any legal challenge. Now, they are likely to do it with spot-bitcoin ETFs, he said.

The 12 spot-bitcoin ETF applications are from Grayscale, 21Shares & Ark, BlackRock, Bitwise, VanEck, Wisdomtree, Invesco & Galaxy, Fidelity, Valkyrie, Global X, Hashdex and Franklin.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.