Ark, 21Shares look to ‘strengthen’ bitcoin ETF filing after BlackRock joins race

Would-be listing exchange Cboe shares willingness to enter into a surveillance-sharing agreement with a bitcoin spot trading platform, according to an amended filing

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Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood | Artwork by Axel Rangel

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Two weeks after BlackRock announced its intention to launch a similar fund, the fund issuers who believe they are well-positioned to introduce a spot bitcoin ETF have made amendments to their proposal.

Ark Invest and 21Shares re-filed to launch their spot bitcoin ETF in April. BlackRock revealed plans for the first time to try to bring such a product to market — spurring other issuers to re-enter the race. 

But a Wednesday filing by Cboe — the exchange that would list the planned ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF — notes that it expects to enter into a surveillance-sharing agreement with “an operator of a United States-based spot trading platform for bitcoin” — copying language from the BlackRock filing.

Trading on the platform “represents a substantial portion of US-based Bitcoin trading,” the document adds. 

The addition to the proposal was done in part to “further strengthen our application,” 21Shares wrote in a blog post. It also demonstrates that the spot bitcoin market is “sufficiently mature and compliant” to justify a related ETF’s approval, the company adds. 

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This update comes after BlackRock, which manages roughly $9 trillion in assets, filed for a spot bitcoin ETF earlier this month. The company’s listing exchange, Nasdaq, noted its willingness to enter into a surveillance-sharing agreement with a bitcoin spot trading platform. 

VanEck, which refiled for a spot bitcoin ETF last week, also included the additional intent to add such a surveillance-sharing agreement.

These additions are unique to other bitcoin ETF proposals that have relied primarily on the surveillance of bitcoin markets via the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) futures markets. 

Read more: How ‘surveillance-sharing’ is designed to deter bitcoin ETF manipulation 

Sumit Roy, a senior analyst at ETF.com, told Blockworks earlier last week that the additional agreement BlackRock added might not be enough for approval, particularly if the platform operator is Coinbase — a company the SEC sued earlier this month.

BlackRock, VanEck and 21Shares declined to comment on the operator’s identity. 

Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood said in a statement the company is proud to have the oldest active filing before the SEC and expects “to be first in line to be considered for approval.”

“We believe bitcoin’s long-term opportunity as a ‘risk-off’ asset and a ‘flight to safety’ for investors during periods when macroeconomic uncertainty is strengthening,” Wood added. “In our view, the approval of a Bitcoin ETF is important and would be a significant turning point in bitcoin’s path to institutional adoption.”

Matthew Sigel, VanEck’s head of digital assets research said in a Twitter thread last week that “all issuers should have the same timeline to a bitcoin spot ETF,” noting that the applications submitted are “nearly identical.”


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