BlackRock Files for Bitcoin ETF

The world’s largest issuer will use Coinbase as a custodian, according to a regulatory filing.

RonDay
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Managing Editor
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Reviewed by: Lisa Barr
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Edited by: Sean Allocca

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest exchange-traded fund issuer, is seeking permission from a U.S. regulator to offer a bitcoin exchange-traded fund in partnership with the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc.  

BlackRock, also the world’s largest asset manager, filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch a fund tracking the price of bitcoin, which is currently not permitted by the agency. The fund, titled the iShares Bitcoin Trust, will store bitcoin with Coinbase’s Custody Trust unit. 

BlackRock’s filing comes as the SEC blocked similar efforts to launch so-called spot bitcoin ETFs. Grayscale Investments has sued the SEC as the crypto investment firm seeks to convert its bitcoin trust into the first spot bitcoin ETF listed in the U.S. 

The SEC is increasingly cracking down on crypto platforms and brokers, including Coinbase.  

The regulator earlier this month sued Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto platform, and Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, leveling a variety of charges including operating as an unregistered securities exchange.  

“This is [a] shocker,” Bloomberg Senior ETF Analyst Eric Balchunas said in a tweet. “There's been no signs at all [that the] SEC [is] willing to approve, but BlackRock is [a] very connected co[mpany,] so maybe they know something?” 

A handful of bitcoin ETFs currently trade, and several more companies have sought permission to offer them this year, although spot bitcoin ETFs are not permitted. 

BlackRock currently operates an ETF that invests in bitcoin’s supporting technology, the iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF (IBLC), which soared 77% this year. 

Despite the lawsuits, crypto and blockchain ETFs have been among the best-performing funds this year. The Global X Blockchain ETF (BKCH) has more than doubled since the year began, while the First Trust SkyBridge Crypto Industry and Digital Economy ETF (CRPT) has added 46%.  

New York-based BlackRock currently employs Coinbase to provide institutional clients of its Aladdin investment management platform, with services including crypto trading and storage, under terms of a deal announced in August.  

Ron Day is Managing Editor at etf.com. He joined the company in October 2022 and previously served as editor and deputy managing editor.

Ron covered business and financial news at Bloomberg News for 20 years, working on the breaking news, technology, commodities, headlines and First Word teams. He was previously senior editor at ESG news outlet Karma Impact and filled the same role at Boundless Impact. He also covered a variety of beats at New Jersey daily papers including the Daily Record in Parsippany, the North Jersey Herald & News and the Asbury Park Press. Ron's freelance work has been published in AARP.com, Investopedia.com and BigThink.com.

Ron is an advocate and fan of literacy. He hopes to one day master his Telecaster, rather than the other way around. His wonderful family includes a 10-lb. malti-poo named Emmy.