Multiple spot bitcoin ETFs or only BlackRock? Will the SEC play ‘king-maker’?

For right now, “it’s BlackRock,” says On the Margin co-host Mark Yusko


WildStrawberry/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


“575 to one,” says Mike Ippolito. “I definitely like those odds.”

BlackRock has an impressive history for ETF approvals. Based on that track record, the outlook for the asset manager’s spot bitcoin ETF application looks bright.

But what about all the other companies that have joined the ETF queue?

On the Margin podcast (Spotify/Apple) host, Ippolito says “Usually, the SEC, they don’t like to just approve one.”

“BlackRock is about as connected as you can possibly be,” says Ippolito, but such an action would implicate the SEC as a sort of “king-maker in the market.” 

Ippolito suggests the regulatory agency will likely approve multiple different ETF issuers to ensure they are not perceived as “putting their finger on the scales.”

Initially, co-host Mark Yusko concurs, saying that when a number of companies applied for bitcoin futures ETFs last year, the SEC approved three, with the first granted to ProShares

Recently, the SEC added approval for the first leveraged bitcoin futures ETF, which was launched by Volatility Shares in June.

But a spot bitcoin ETF differs from futures in that it is “physically backed” by the asset. Pricing is determined in accordance with the current — or spot market — value of the asset rather than as a cash-settled derivative that relies on future price predictions. 

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they did give it to a couple others,” Yusko, the founder, CEO and CIO of Morgan Creek Capital, says.

But Yusko admits he’s “leaning toward” the likeliness that the agency takes a similar approach around the introduction of gold futures in 2004.

Initially, the SEC granted exclusive approval for the SPDR gold shares ETF under the GLD ticker, enabling them to gobble up the lion’s share of the market. “There’s no real alternative to GLD,” Yusko says. 

“Now, the other ones that have gold ETFs say, ‘No, no, we have one.’” 

“No, you don’t. There’s GLD — and everybody else.”

“Maybe at some point they’ll approve other ones,” he says.

Yusko then considers the possibility that the SEC might cave to public cynicism concerning the notion of unfairly offering exclusive approval to BlackRock. He suggests they may approve VanEck’s application, being that they are a “reputable group”— but not any of the “newbies,” like Bitwise.

“I would love for them to get approved,” he says.

“I would love for Arca to get approved. I’d love for the twins to get approved,” he says. But for right now, he says, “it’s BlackRock.”

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

Explore the growing intersection between crypto, macroeconomics, policy and finance with Ben Strack, Casey Wagner and Felix Jauvin. Subscribe to the On the Margin newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.


Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2024

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research



Aerodrome is a "MetaDEX" that combines elements of various DEX primitives such as Uniswap V2 and V3, Curve, Convex, and Votium. Since its launch on Base, it has become the largest protocol by TVL with more than $495B in value locked, doubling Uniswap's Base deployment.


The former Valkyrie CEO chats with Blockworks about what she has her eye on as Cypherpunk Holdings’ new leader


Thursday’s CPI report shows prices are coming down more quickly than analysts had anticipated, renewing hope that central bankers will cut rates in the fall


If we tokenize all assets in a speculative rush, the risk of creating illiquid markets and trapped value will manifest on a large scale


Plus, Trump is headed to the heart of Bitcoinlandia with a speaking appearance at the Bitcoin 2024 conference


Meanwhile, stocks rally after Jerome Powell finishes his Capitol Hill tour


Plus, Blinks have reshaped many people’s understanding of what blockchains are capable of