Cointelegraph By Andrew Singer
With more than 35 million customers, $21 billion in revenues and $3.8 trillion in discretionary managed assets, Fidelity Investments is one of the largest investment management companies in the world. It may need all its heft to break the losing streak of crypto-fund sponsors that have gone up against the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
As reported, Fidelity filed with the SEC on March 24 a preliminary registration statement on behalf of its Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust — an exchange-traded fund that would track the performance of Bitcoin as measured by its Fidelity Bitcoin Index. This followed similar SEC filings this year from WisdomTree, CBOE/VanEck, NYDIG Asset Management, Valkyrie Digital Assets and SkyBridge Capital.
A Fidelity Bitcoin fund would be an event of some historic importance. According to Nik Bhatia, author of the book Layered Money: From Gold and Dollars to Bitcoin and Central Bank Digital Currencies and adjunct professor of finance and business economics at the University of Southern California, this would be bigger than Elon Musk buying $1.5 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) for Tesla’s corporate treasury, more significant than PayPal allowing its users to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency, and greater than Coinbase’s upcoming initial public offering.
“It would bring the final stamp of legitimacy to Bitcoin,” Bhatia told Cointelegraph, and it could happen relatively soon. “I imagine that [CEO] Abby Johnson and Fidelity have filed, knowing they will get approved, and I now think it’s probably less than 12 months away.”
Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group — an independent financial advisory organization — told Cointelegraph, that if the SEC approves Fidelity’s BTC plans, it would mean “another major step into the mainstream for cryptocurrencies. It will also, inevitably, prompt more institutional investors into the already burgeoning cryptoverse.”
Not all are sure, though. “The Fidelity name is important, but it may not be big enough to overcome the other hurdles,” Georges Ugeux, adjunct lecturer in law at Columbia University Law School, told Cointelegraph. Among those hindrances are the crypto funds’ lack of diversification, illiquidity and, at least in the short term, the fact that the agency still doesn’t have a confirmed chairman.
Lennard Neo, head of research at Stack Funds — a crypto index fund provider — told Cointelegraph: “We have seen many ETFs being rejected by the SEC citing manipulation and market size as concerns.” Still, the cryptocurrency space has grown significantly over recent years and matured into an emerging new asset class. “If one keeps knocking on the door, it will eventually open.”
There are reasons, however, why approval of Bitcoin ETFs are unlikely in the immediate future, Michael Venuto, co-founder and chief investment officer of Toroso Investments, told Cointelegraph. “The SEC role is investor protection. Approving an ETF of Bitcoin could be seen as an endorsement that may run counter to more powerful forces within our government.” More clarity is still needed “at the federal, fiscal, tax and other regulatory levels” before the agency will approve a BTC fund, he said.
Concentration and liquidity concerns
Regulators are worried about, among other things, concentration risk — i.e., the possibility of “amplified losses” because holdings aren’t sufficiently diversified — a risk that may be particularly pronounced with a Bitcoin fund. In its S-1 filing, Fidelity itself acknowledged that:
“Unlike other funds that may invest in diversified assets, the Trust’s investment strategy is concentrated in a single asset within a single asset class. This concentration maximizes the degree of the Trust’s exposure to a variety of market risks associated with bitcoin and digital assets.”
With equity funds, the SEC doesn’t want any single stock to comprise more than 25% of an ETF’s basket size as measured by market capitalization, Ugeux told Cointelegraph. Bitcoin isn’t an equity, of course — it’s more like a commodity, at least according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and recent statements by senior SEC officials — but a Fidelity BTC would appear to really stretch the SEC’s concentration rules.
Another possible concern is liquidity, added Ugeux. ETF sponsors are supposed to be continuously purchasing and selling the fund’s underlying assets — to protect the sponsor so it isn’t holding too much itself — but here again, a Bitcoin fund can be problematic because its underlying assets are not (relatively) liquid securities.
Fidelity acknowledged in its filing its ability to sell Bitcoin could be affected by limited trading volume, lack of a market maker, or legal restrictions — indeed, a “governmental authority may suspend or restrict trading in Bitcoin altogether.” The filing added: “Bitcoin is a new asset with a very limited trading history. Therefore, the markets for bitcoin may be less liquid and more volatile than other markets for more established products.”
Still, these problems could be surmountable. “It seems a question of when — not if — the SEC will approve a Bitcoin ETF,” said Todd Rosenbluth, head of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA, in a public statement that he shared with Cointelegraph. Additionally, when approval does come, he said that:
“We expect multiple firms to receive the go ahead because the [regulatory] concerns were more with Bitcoin inside an ETF than anything specific to an individual proposal. Firms with an established ETF presence and broad distribution would have the advantages over others.”
As noted, some half dozen firms have filed with the U.S. SEC for crypto ETFs this year. Could any of them beat Fidelity to the punch, and if so, would they have anything close to the impact of a Fidelity ETF?
“I don’t think Fidelity has an advantage in getting approved,” Venuto told Cointelegraph. “The only one with a slight advantage is VanEck since they were the first of the current class to file for a 19b-4 rule change” — which made it easier to list ETFs.
Felix Shipkevich, an attorney specializing in cryptocurrency-related legal and regulatory matters at Shipkevich PLLC, told Cointelegraph: “All of the ETF Bitcoin applicants are game-changers” — i.e., not just Fidelity. Even with the regulatory ambiguity in the cryptocurrency space, “I have yet to see an ETF application from anything less than a first-tier financial services firm.”
Related: Bitcoin ETF may come to US, but not all crypto investors think it’s needed
Even if approval is eventually given, it may not happen so fast. Hester Peirce, a commissioner at the SEC and sometimes referred to as “Crypto Mom” for her support of cryptocurrencies, addressed the matter of ETFs in a recent speech, and “she did not give the impression that one [i.e., approval] would come through immediately,” said Ugeux. Approval(s) may take additional time, too, because Gary Gensler still hasn’t officially been confirmed as SEC chairman almost two months after his nomination, he added.
From Peirce’s speech, one might even conclude that the SEC had dug itself into a bit of a hole because it had delayed BTC fund approval for so long. Not only has the SEC’s “reluctance to permit traditional investment vehicles to hold Bitcoin or Bitcoin futures has contributed to investors seeking more expensive, less convenient, or less direct substitutes,” she said, “but it also has heightened the stakes of any regulatory approval for a mainstream retail product we might one day grant.”
The waiting has “magnified the first-approved advantage” for any Bitcoin ETF, and should the agency allow one now, investors might think the SEC is giving its “blessing” to that particular product — which would be the wrong inference to take, Peirce added.
Crypto cynics are “on the wrong side of history”
Whatever the circumstances — whether alone or as part of a group, whether sooner or later — “an ETF launched by one of the biggest mutual funds in the world definitely makes a statement,” said Neo regarding the Fidelity filing.
He continued: “It emphasizes the maturity and acceptance in Bitcoin” and would bring more institutional investors to the cryptoverse but also retail investors “with a low-cost, flexible alternative to efficiently diversify their portfolio into digital assets.”
“Staggeringly,” Green told Cointelegraph, “there are still some ‘experts’ who claim that digital currencies are not the future of money. The move by this investment giant to launch a Bitcoin ETF further underscores that cryptocurrency cynics are on the wrong side of history.”
“Bitcoin maximalists? They can’t stop innovation,” says Mati Greenspan
Cointelegraph By Marco Castrovilli
In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph during Bitcoin 2021 in Miami, Greenspan criticized a segment of Bitcoin (BTC) maximalists for being “small-minded and insecure,” pointing out that they don’t have control over the main cryptocurrency.
“They cannot stop any kind of innovation from happening. So let them yap, it doesn’t bother me,” said Mati Greenspan, founder and CEO of Quantum Economics, about Bitcoin maximalists.
Greenspan‘s statements came a few days after a number of Bitcoin hardliners attacked him on Twitter for calling the Bitcoin conference in Miami “a crypto conference.”
Greenspan’s inclusive view on crypto is also reflected in his diversified investment portfolio. When asked about it, Greenspan pointed out that Dogecoin (DOGE) is his top holding on eToro. “Why not?” he said. “It’s funny!”
Check out the full interview on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Over 2 million adults in UK now hold crypto, FCA survey finds
Cointelegraph By Helen Partz
A new study by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority has indicated a significant increase in cryptocurrency ownership in the country.
On Thursday, the FCA published the results of a consumer survey which found that 2.3 million adults in the U.K. now hold crypto assets, up from 1.9 million last year. Alongside the increasing number of crypto investors, the study also identified a surge in ownership volumes, with median holdings rising to 300 British pounds ($420) from 260 pounds ($370) in 2020.
The rising popularity of holding cryptocurrency comes in line with an uptick in the awareness level as 78% of adults said they have heard of crypto, up from 73% last year.
Despite the rising awareness and ownership of crypto, the FCA study has flagged a notable decline in understanding of cryptocurrencies, suggesting that some people who have heard of crypto may not fully understand it.
According to the report, only 71% of respondents correctly identified the definition of cryptocurrency from a list of statements, down 4% from 2020. “This suggests there may be a risk of consumers engaging with cryptocurrency without a clear understanding of it,” the FCA noted.
Related: Crypto and ‘meme stocks’ shunned by 90% of UK financial advisers
Sheldon Mills, the FCA’s executive director of consumers and competition, said that some U.K. investors have benefitted from the bull market this year. “However it is important for customers to understand that because these products are largely unregulated that if something goes wrong they are unlikely to have access to the FSCS or the Financial Ombudsman Service,” he added.
The FCA study also said that U.K. consumers significantly favor Bitcoin (BTC) over other cryptocurrencies, with 82% of respondents recognizing BTC. Among those who recognized at least one cryptocurrency, 70% recognized only Bitcoin, up 15% from 2020, the study said. “It seems likely many adults who have now heard of cryptocurrency are only acquainted with Bitcoin,” the FCA stated.
SEC opens to comments on whether to approve VanEck Bitcoin ETF
Cointelegraph By Turner Wright
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an order allowing the public to comment on the proposed rule change surrounding the Bitcoin exchange-traded fund from asset manager VanEck.
According to a Wednesday filing from the SEC, the regulatory body has not yet reached a decision on whether to approve or disapprove of VanEck’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, or ETF, but “seeks and encourages interested persons to provide comments” on the proposal. Specifically, the commission is asking the public to consider whether they believe the Bitcoin ETF would be susceptible to manipulation and designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices.
The SEC also asked people to weigh in on “the suitability of Bitcoin as an underlying asset for an exchange-traded product,” and the liquidity and transparency of the Bitcoin (BTC) market. Existing rules require that national securities exchanges are aimed to “protect investors and the public interest.”
Anyone interested in commenting on the proposed Bitcoin ETF will have until 21 days after the order is published in the Federal Register, and 35 days after publication in the same register for rebuttals. Members of public can submit comments through the SEC website, via email, or snail mail.
Related: SEC pushes decision on VanEck Bitcoin ETF until June
VanEck submitted the paperwork to apply for a Bitcoin ETF with the SEC in March following the asset manager withdrawing a similar application it had filed in January in partnership with blockchain startup SolidX. The commission has already extended the deliberation window once, from May 3 to June 17.
The SEC has the ability to extend the deadline in 45-, 45-, 90- and 60-day increments — up to 240 days — before delivering a final decision. However, under Section 19(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the commission also has the right “to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved” prior to any deadline, as is the case in the request for public comment.
No Bitcoin ETF has been approved by regulators in the United States. Given the SEC’s continued delays in the case of VanEck’s, Valkyrie Digital Assets’ and Fidelity Investments’ proposed BTC exchange-traded funds, many do not expect an approval soon. However, Canadian officials have given the green light for many crypto ETFs this year, including offerings from investment fund manager 3iQ, Purpose Investments, Evolve Funds Group and CI Global Asset Management.
Ethereum2 days ago
Shiba Inu and Chiliz jump 33% and 26% on Coinbase Pro listings
Bitcoin2 days ago
New Bitcoin bull market hodlers are refusing to sell at $40K, data suggests
Bitcoin3 days ago
Within five years, US hedge funds expect to hold 10.6% of assets in crypto
DeFi3 days ago
Tim Draper Says Bitcoin to Hit $250K in 2022
Cryptocurrency13 hours ago
SEC Seeks Commentary From ‘Interested’ Individuals on Vaneck Bitcoin ETF – Regulation Bitcoin News
DeFi2 days ago
China to Kick Out Bitcoin Miners and Most Are On Their Way to Texas
Regulations2 days ago
Regulations drive Korean exchanges to delist, warn against high risk coins
Blockchain3 days ago
‘Tiger King’ star and convicted animal abuser Joe Exotic to launch NFT from prison