Bitwise Files With the US SEC for a Physically Held Bitcoin ETF

Cryptocurrency index fund provider Bitwise Asset Management has applied with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch a new Bitcoin (BTC) Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), according to a registration form published today, Jan. 10.

According to the form, Bitwise’s proposed ETF will track the Bitwise Bitcoin Total Return Index, the value of which is “calculated based on the prices of bitcoin that the Index Provider derives from bitcoin price transactions occurring on cryptocurrency exchanges.” According to a press release accompanying the newly filed form, the firm’s proposed Bitcoin ETF reportedly differs from other previously proposed Bitcoin ETFs in that it draws prices from a variety of crypto exchanges, with the aim of better representing the market.

Bitwise’s Bitcoin ETF reportedly also differs from other applications in that it would require “regulated third-party custodians to hold its physical bitcoin.”

In the firm’s press release, John Hyland, Global Head of ETFs at Bitwise declared:

“Having a regulated bank or trust company hold physical assets of a fund has been the standard under U.S. fund regulation for the last 80 years, and we believe that is now possible with Bitcoin.”

As Cointelegraph reported in July, Bitwise had filed with the SEC to launch a crypto ETF tracking the Bitwise HOLD 10 Private Index Fund, a basket of ten cryptocurrencies. To press time, a decision from the SEC is still pending.  

An ETF is a security that tracks an asset or a group of assets and is traded the same way in which stocks are on an exchange. As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has denied that it is considering allowing Bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

The crypto industry has long awaited the approval of a Bitcoin or generally crypto ETF by U.S. regulators, since a number of firms have applied to launch such products in the country. In December, the SEC further postponed its decision on a Bitcoin ETF by investment firm VanEck and blockchain company SolidX on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE),  setting the new deadline for Feb. 27, 2019.

Also in December, an SEC commissioner said “not to hold your breath” waiting for a Bitcoin ETF, speaking at the Digital Asset Investment Forum held in Washington.

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Investment Startup Bitwise Proposes ETF for Top 10 Cryptos

Crypto investment startup Bitwise is seeking regulators’ permission to offer an exchange-traded fund (ETF) tied to the top 10 cryptocurrencies.

The Bitwise HOLD 10 Cryptocurrency Index Fund ETF would track the returns on the startup’s HOLD 10 Index. That index is the basis for a passive investment fund which itself invests in the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. This fund “captures approximately 80 [percent] of the total market capitalization of the cryptocurrency market,” the company said Tuesday.

According to a press release, the ETF proposal addresses issues surrounding supply, liquidity, trade volume and custody, which are areas the SEC has expressed concern about in the past.

The proposal, filed with the SEC, differs from other ETF applications under the agency’s review in that it lists multiple cryptocurrencies as part of the fund, and not just bitcoin.

The news comes just hours after the regulator announced it was postponing a decision on five other proposed ETFs. Those funds were proposed by Direxion Investments, which has withdrawn similar proposals in the past at the SEC’s direction.

At the same time, there is an effort to encourage the SEC to approve another ETF proposal, offered by VanEck and SolidX. The SEC is taking comments on this proposal, and may offer a decision as soon as next month if it does not choose to delay it as well.

Cryptocurrencies’ chart image via Worawee Meepian / Shutterstock

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