SEC kicks off comment period for planned Franklin Templeton bitcoin ETF

Agency’s decision to start comment window earlier than expected could be bullish for spot bitcoin ETF approval in January, industry watchers say


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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has initiated the comment period for Franklin Templeton’s spot bitcoin ETF proposal.

This move was initiated earlier than some expected, with the SEC now actively seeking public feedback.

New SEC filings could signal its willingness to close out the comment period on such funds ahead of a potential January ruling on bitcoin ETFs, some segment observers said.  

A Tuesday disclosure indicates the regulator has chosen to “institute proceedings” to determine whether to approve or deny the Franklin Bitcoin ETF.

“The commission seeks and encourages interested persons to provide comments on the proposed rule change,” the filing states.

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

The SEC has a 240-day window to consider each of the spot bitcoin ETF proposals from the day it is published in the federal register. During this timeframe, specific deadlines occur at intervals of 45 days, 45 days, 90 days, and 60 days. At each of these milestones, the SEC must file a response either approving, denying, or postponing a decision on the proposal.

Franklin Templeton, a traditional finance giant with roughly $1.5 trillion assets under management, jumped into the bitcoin ETF race in September

The Franklin Bitcoin ETF proposal was published in the federal register on Oct. 3, and the SEC delayed its decision on the product in a Nov. 15 order

While another filing related to this proposal wasn’t due until Jan. 1, the Tuesday order signals the SEC might be looking to fast-track the process in preparation for a potential mass ruling on spot bitcoin ETFs. 

“They might have chosen to do this early so they could have the comment period end before Jan 10, in order to approve everyone at the same time,” Van Buren Capital general partner Scott Johnsson said in an X post.  

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Jan. 10 is the date by which the SEC is set to rule on a spot bitcoin ETF proposed by Ark Invest and 21Shares. Industry watchers have pointed to this date, noting the securities regulator could approve all spot bitcoin ETFs at this time to avoid giving any one product a first-mover advantage. 

The SEC could also choose to deny such proposals — a move that would be consistent with previous rulings over the last decade. 

Along with the order related to Franklin Templeton’s proposal, the SEC filed a separate order seeking comments on the proposed bitcoin ETF from Brazil-based asset manager Hashdex.  

“This delay on [Hashdex] all but confirms for me that this was likely a move to line every applicant up for potential approval by the Jan 10, 2024 deadline,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Seyffart said in a Tuesday X post.

A spokesperson for the SEC did not immediately return a request for comment.

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