Bitcoin ETF saga reaches ‘pattern break’ as amendments pile up

The ongoing amendments to bitcoin ETF proposals by various fund issuers signal an approval could be coming, industry watchers have said. 

Ophelia Snyder, the president of bitcoin ETF hopeful 21Shares, said Monday that engagement with regulators indeed has a different feel this time around. 

“Right now everyone’s watching this race on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis…is it today, tomorrow?” she noted during an interview on Bloomberg TV. “I think that’s a challenging way of looking at this. I think the clearest indication is that we’re in a pattern break.”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has never allowed a spot bitcoin ETF to come to market — despite repeated attempts by fund issuers over the last decade. 21Shares has been through the process before, first filing for a spot bitcoin ETF with Ark Invest in 2021.

The SEC denied the firms’ proposed fund in March 2022 and blocked a second attempt from the companies in January. The two firms then re-filed for a bitcoin ETF in April. 

The way the agency would interact with fund groups looking to launch spot bitcoin ETFs, and on which issues, has historically held steady, Snyder said. 

“I think we’re seeing a little bit of a difference there now with people actually providing amendments to documents and providing a little more color on what these products are actually going to look like in the market,” she added. “That’s really positive, because, very candidly, change in behavior might actually result in a change of outcome, and that’s really exciting.”

Read more: Is bitcoin’s ETF-fueled rally to $35K premature? Well, maybe

21Shares and Ark Invest amended its bitcoin ETF proposal for a third time Monday. Other issuers — such as financial giants BlackRock, Fidelity and Invesco — have updated similar applications in recent weeks. 

Scott Johnson, a general partner at Van Buren Capital, pointed out “pretty technical updates to the disclosures” in a series of X posts, noting it “seems like there are productive conversations happening with the SEC.”

The amendment notes a “sponsor fee” of 0.80% — offering a glimpse at what the fund could cost for investors.  

“We really did expect these to price a bit higher than what you would see from a more traditional ETF…because there is quite a bit of incremental infrastructure and expertise baked in here,” Snyder said.  

The futures-based ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), which is currently the largest crypto ETF in the US, carries an expense ratio of 95 basis points.

BITO has seen net inflows of $207 million so far in November, according to ETF.com, as its assets under management now stand at roughly $1.4 billion.  

21Shares and Ark Invest launched its own suite of crypto futures ETFs last week. 

“I think you’re going to see quite a bit more interest in these products than futures [ETFs], especially over the medium term,” Snyder said of spot bitcoin funds. “I think the combination of better access and, quite frankly, really interesting developments in the underlying technology are coinciding for a potential changed market outlook.”

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