• Valkyrie filed a key form early Friday that signals approval may be just around the corner
  • The SEC seems to favor the futures-based structure over spot options

As speculation swirls around whether the SEC will approve a bitcoin futures-based ETF, Valkyrie made an early-morning filing Friday that signals the fund may begin trading soon. Shortly after, Nasdaq announced that it has accepted the listing and is awaiting approval from the SEC.

Valkyrie, who first disclosed for its plans for a Bitcoin Strategy ETF in August, filed an 8-A with the SEC. Companies must complete the form before offering securities on an exchange. 

The move very likely means that approval for a bitcoin futures ETF is just around the corner, people familiar with the matter said. 

Valkyrie is joined by ProShares, Invesco, VanEck and others — most recently, Ark Invest and 21Shares — in vying for a futures-based ETF approval.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said during a virtual forum in August that his agency would “look forward” to reviewing ETFs that were limited to investing in bitcoin futures contracts, leading to an explosion of filings. 

The filing Friday comes shortly after the SEC’s investor education account tweeted a link to its guide for investor protection when trading bitcoin futures, first published in June 2021. 

A futures-based ETF approval would be the first of its kind in the US. Issuers have tried to launch a series of different structures over the years, including funds that use leverage or spot bitcoin products. In recent months it became more clear that Gensler would likely favor a futures product given CME’s success with the structure. 

Ahead of the filing, bitcoin reached $60,000 for the first time since hitting its all-time high near $65,000 last spring.

ProShares and Valkyrie declined to comment.

“I had expected that the SEC would seek to allow all futures-based ETFs filed within a period of time to go effective at the same point to avoid giving a first mover advantage, but at this point it seems that might not happen,” Todd Rosenbluth, senior director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA, told Blockworks on Thursday. “There’s likely to be pent up demand for any bitcoin ETF despite the differences between a futures-based product and a direct bitcoin offering.”

Along with the various bitcoin futures-based ETFs, a dozen or so physically backed bitcoin products still await SEC approval. Industry professionals have noted some complications of a futures-based ETF, such as roll costs and contango, which may make them less than ideal than spot options for many investors.

The CIO for Bitwise Asset Management, which has filed for both types of products, noted that though the firm is excited about potentially bringing to market a bitcoin futures-based ETF, such offerings likely won’t gather nearly as many assets as physically-backed offerings over the long term.

“Honestly, what most investors want is just access to the price of bitcoin and not the complications that come with a futures-based product,” Bitwise CIO Matt Hougan said.

  • Blockworks
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    Casey Wagner is a New York-based business journalist covering digital assets and macro economics. Prior to joining Blockworks, she reported on markets at Bloomberg News. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Media Studies.
  • Ben Strack is a Denver-based reporter covering macro economics, financial services and digital asset management. Prior to joining Blockworks, he covered the asset management industry for Fund Intelligence, and was a reporter and editor for various local newspapers on Long Island. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism.