Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest Updates Spot Bitcoin Application

Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest Updates Spot Bitcoin Application

The firm made changes after SEC feedback.

Finance Reporter
Reviewed by: Staff
Edited by: Mark Nacinovich

Ark Invest, along with cryptocurrency-focused firm 21Shares, filed another amendment to their application with the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch a spot bitcoin ETF.

Ark, which is led by famed investor Cathie Wood, refiled on Oct. 11, this time with roughly five pages of updates and tweaks from its last attempt. The amendments included additional risk disclosures, including a section about the impact of bitcoin’s electricity usage on the environment.

The filing also added that the custodian of the assets—Coinbase in Ark’s case—will be held in “segregated accounts on the bitcoin blockchain” and not alongside other customers' accounts or corporate bitcoin.  

The move signals that the SEC is open to signing off on the filing, according to an analyst report from Bloomberg’s James Seyffart. He wrote that the new text is a step that typically occurs only when a fund is on its way to approval. Bloomberg analysts raised the odds of a so- called “spotcoin” approval by Ark’s Jan. 10, 2024 deadline to 90%.  

As a slew of firms—including BlackRock, VanEck and Bitwise Asset Management—jockey to roll out exchange-traded funds that track cryptocurrency, the SEC has been pressured to approve the investment vehicles. While the SEC has approved both ETFs that track bitcoin futures and ethereum futures, the agency has yet to greenlight any fund that tracks physically backed bitcoin or ether.  

Ark’s Work With the SEC  

While the SEC and Chairman Gary Gensler have thus far ejected any ETF that tracks physical cryptocurrency, the agency could now be guiding firms in their updates.  

“The SEC has historically engaged with the research at a deep level and asked questions about it that are reasonable,” Matt Hougan, chief investment officer of Bitwise, said in reference to his firm’s application for a spot bitcoin ETF. “We're fortunate as issuers that the SEC has written thousands of pages in its disapproval orders for other ETFs explaining what it needs to see." 

The SEC first rejected Ark’s spotcoin application in 2021. In July 2022, the firm amended their filing to include a surveillance sharing agreement with Coinbase, meant to answer the SEC’s concerns about market manipulation.  

SEC's Loss in Court

Another reason the agency could be willing to work with these firms ETF centers on its loss in court against Grayscale Investments. The SEC lost in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals as the judges unanimously decided that the agency’s blocking of Grayscale’s bitcoin trust into an ETF was “arbitrary and capricious.”  

Yet most recently, the SEC further delayed a group of spot bitcoin applications, including ARK’s.  

That the agency is now negotiating terms of a spotcoin approval with the firms, especially when taken with the recent green flag for ether futures ETF, could signals an appending approval.  

“SEC approval of spot bitcoin ETFs appear to be a matter of when, not if,” Seyffart wrote in the report. “But that isn’t preventing the agency from continuing to delay.”  

Lucy Brewster is a finance reporter at covering asset managers, emerging technologies, and regulation. She hosts webinars and appears on Exchange Traded Fridays,’s flagship podcast. She previously was a finance fellow at Fortune Magazine where she covered markets, investment strategy, and venture capital. She has also been a freelancer writer at the publication Mergers & Acquisitions and a research fellow at the Historic Hudson Valley. 

She graduated from Vassar College in 2022 with a degree in History and was an editor of The Miscellany News, the college's award winning student run newspaper. 

Lucy lives in Brooklyn, NY, and in her free time she loves to run and find new recipes to cook.