SEC's Peirce: Spot Bitcoin ETF Is Past Due

The agency “needs to change its attitude” on all things crypto, Peirce said Thursday.

LucyBrewster310x310
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Finance Reporter
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Reviewed by: etf.com Staff
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Edited by: Mark Nacinovich

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce agrees with some of the most bullish cryptocurrency investors—a spot bitcoin ETF should have been approved years ago and that regulators have been standing in the way, she says.  

“I thought that we should have approved one of these over five years ago, so the fact that we haven’t done it yet is a mystery to me,” Peirce said Thursday at Bloomberg’s ETFs in Depth Conference in New York. 

Despite her favorable comments about the ETF, Peirce declined to say whether she thinks it will be approved. Anticipation is building before a Jan. 10 deadline to approve or deny ARK/21Shares' spot bitcoin ETF application, and the price of bitcoin has more than doubled this year in anticipation of a vote. 

ETF issuers and cryptocurrency firms have been filing to launch a spot bitcoin ETF for years, but the Securities and Exchange Commission has denied applications on the grounds of preventing market manipulation and protecting investors. 

Yet after Grayscale Investments won a watershed lawsuit against the agency in late August, the SEC begun to meet with some prospective issuers to move their applications along and amend the filings to the SEC’s liking. Firms such as Grayscale, BlackRock and Fidelity Investments have been meeting with the SEC in recent weeks, according to memos.  

The ETF and crypto ecosystems are “ready” to embrace a spot bitcoin ETF, according to Peirce. “We have experience with foreign jurisdictions having experience with products that are not spot, but futures products,” she said.  

Spot Bitcoin ETF Race 

Peirce, who was appointed to the SEC in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, has iterated her stance on cryptocurrency before, making her an outlier among SEC officials.  

“What I do think the SEC needs to change is its attitude towards all things crypto and blockchain,” she said.

“It has gotten to be a little ridiculous that we take a position that the moment something involves crypto, we start applying standards that are different,” she said of the ETF approval process.  

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has expressed trepidation, if not hostility, toward cryptocurrency.  

“We don’t need more digital currency…we already have digital currency; it’s called the U.S. dollar,” he said in June. 

Contact Lucy Brewster at [email protected].  

Lucy Brewster is a finance reporter at etf.com covering asset managers, emerging technologies, and regulation. She hosts etf.com webinars and appears on Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’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.