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.
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.
CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.