In a filing dated Sept. 26, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) deferred its decision on a major spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), causing further delay to the final verdict on the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF.
This filing recognized that the Cboe BZX had earlier proposed a rule change, aiming for the approval and listing of the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF.
Though Cboe BZX submitted the filing on April 25, 2023, the proposal was not published for comment in the Federal Register until May 15. The SEC then designated a longer approval period on June 15, 2023, extending the date by which it was required to issue an approval, issue a rejection, or start proceedings that will determine whether to issue a rejection. Cboe BZX also submitted amendments on three dates.
The SEC was expected to approve or reject the proposal within 180 days of publication of the proposed rule, or by Nov. 11, 2023. However, the securities regulator said in its current filing that it is allowed to extend the approval deadline by an additional 60 days. As such, the agency has postponed its decision to Jan. 10, 2024.
The SEC simultaneously postponed a decision on GlobalX’s Bitcoin ETF. In this case, the regulator must approve or disapprove the ETF, or initiate proceedings, by Nov. 21.
Global X’s ETF is unrelated to the ARK 21 Shares ETF. However, both applications were filed by, and concern proposed listings and rule changes, on Cboe BZX.
Several other Bitcoin ETFs await approval
The delays affecting the above ETFs are significant as they may provide an indication of the SEC’s future treatment of various other pending applications.
Many asset management firms submitted similar filings for spot Bitcoin ETFs after BlackRock submitted its own application in mid-June. However, ARK submitted its filing considerably earlier. As a result, the SEC can only delay a decision on ARK’s ETF until January 2024, whereas it can delay some other decisions as late as March 2024.
The delay is not unexpected. ARK Invest CEO and CIO Cathie Wood suggested in August that the SEC would likely delay a decision on her company’s filing. Nevertheless, Wood expressed an expectation that the SEC eventually will approve several funds.
Incidentally, various U.S. lawmakers today urged the SEC to approve a Bitcoin ETF in a letter addressed to chairman Gary Gensler and several commissioners.
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