SEC could make or break bitcoin ETF dreams in September – who’s up next?

The SEC’s initial deadlines to weigh in on proposed bitcoin ETFs by Bitwise, BlackRock, Fidelity and others are set for early next month


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Various ETF nerds, crypto bulls and fund group executives likely had Aug. 13 circled on their calendars. 

But those waiting for a spot bitcoin ETF can now look ahead to the first couple days of September, when the Securities and Exchange Commission has more deadlines looming.

Aug. 13 was one of several deadlines for the SEC to rule on, or put off its decision, for the proposed spot bitcoin ETF by Ark Invest and 21Shares

The SEC opted on Friday (a bit early, likely given that Aug. 13 is a Sunday) to share that it needed more time to rule on that proposal — a result expected by many.

But there are plenty of other bitcoin ETF proposals to monitor. The SEC’s next deadline is Sept. 1 — a day by which it will weigh in on the planned Bitwise Bitcoin ETP Trust.

The regulator has 240 days to consider each of the spot bitcoin ETFs from the time it publishes them in the federal register.

Throughout that span — at 45 days, 45 days, 90 days and 60 days — are deadlines at which point the SEC submits a filing essentially approving, denying or delaying a decision on that product. 

Bitwise’s proposal was published in the federal register on July 18. Similar proposals by BlackRock, Fidelity, Invesco, WisdomTree and VanEck hit the register the following day. 

The SEC’s deadline to weigh in on the latter five products is Sept. 2. It has until Sept. 4 to share an opinion on another bitcoin ETF proposed by fund group Valkyrie

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If the SEC took the full 240 days to rule on each proposal, the product by Ark and 21Shares would be allowed or blocked on Jan. 10. A decision on the rest of them would follow in mid-March.

Read more: An approved spot bitcoin ETF could be ‘one of the largest launches in history’

Bitwise CEO Matt Hougan said during a webinar on Tuesday that while spot bitcoin ETF approval “could come at any point,” he believes it is more likely to come during the fourth quarter of 2023 or the first quarter of next year. 

If the SEC chooses to approve any, or all, of these products, the regulator is not required to do so in the order in which they were filed. 

Hougan said on the webinar that the SEC approving more than one “high-quality” bitcoin ETF at the same time would be “best for the investing public.”

Others have shared similar feelings. 

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Seyffart said during a July 5 ETF Prime podcast that letting BlackRock launch first, for example, would be “a really bad look.”

“Given the nearly identical ETF applications submitted, we believe all issuers should have the same timeline to a bitcoin spot ETF,” Matthew Sigel, VanEck’s head of digital assets research, said in a June tweet. “Stop picking winners!”

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