Spot Bitcoin ETF’s Future Dims After Gensler’s Latest Comments

The battle for a spot product continues.

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Reviewed by: Shubham Saharan
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Edited by: Shubham Saharan

Gary Gensler, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said on Friday that plenty of other industries managed compliance issues successfully, calling into question the prospects of a spot bitcoin ETF launch this year. 

When asked about the path forward to greenlight a spot bitcoin ETF, the Wall Street watchdog’s pointed to various industries, including tech and manufacturing firms, alongside exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq, which “know how to be compliant and come into registration” in a Friday interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC.  

“We have tens of thousands of registrants that properly in good faith comply, they register, they make the proper disclosures; it’s time for this group to do so,” Gensler said. “The runway is getting awfully short, and we’re here to try to protect the investing public.”  

Gensler’s comments come as the SEC has denied issuers the ability to bring a spot exchange-traded product to the market for nearly a decade, with the latest loss being doled out to the Ark 21Shares Spot bitcoin ETF on Jan. 26.  

Issuers have fought back, with Grayscale Investments launching a lawsuit against the regulatory agency after its denial of the firm’s $14.6 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) conversion to an ETF.  

“We agree it's important to have regulated investment vehicles like spot bitcoin ETFs. We will continue to fight for GBTC shareholders,” Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein said in a tweet Friday morning, in response to Gensler’s interview.  

A final decision on Grayscale’s suit is expected in the fall of 2023, and oral arguments for the case begin on March 7. According to Cryptoslate, the firm has filed its final briefings for the case. No material changes to the documentation were reported.  

If Grayscale fails to win its suit against the regulator, some experts are looking to Congress to move the issue forward.  

“I think pretty likely the only path forward would be some kind of action on behalf of Congress,” said CEO of Osprey Funds Greg King in an interview with ETF.com earlier this week.  

He pointed to the potential hurdles in place to enact legislation in the future.  

“If you just use the phrase ‘crypto legislation,’ that's a giant body of potential laws and regulations,” King said. “So you really have this problem of how to take the first bite out of a hamburger that's 12 inches tall.” 

In January, Osprey Funds filed a lawsuit against GBTC’s parent after an effort to take over management of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.   

 

Contact Shubham Saharanat[email protected]      

Shubham Saharan is a markets reporter at etf.com. Before joining the company, she reported for Bloomberg and the Financial Times. Saharan is a graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University.