Cboe Global Markets Inc. is seeking approval to list and trade shares of what could be the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the U.S.
Cboe in a Monday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sought the green light for the VanEck Bitcoin Trust. VanEck Associates Corp. in December applied to start an ETF tracking the largest cryptocurrency. It is at least the third time since 2018 that Cboe has teamed with VanEck to seek a fund approval.
Last month Canadian securities regulators cleared the launch of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF, making it the first to gain regulatory approval in North America. Cboe said in its filing the cryptocurrency ecosystem has “progressed significantly,” citing among other things products investing in Bitcoin futures as well as the emergence of regulated custodial services for digital assets.
U.S. regulators have so far refrained from approving a Bitcoin ETF, citing worries about everything from market volatility and industry manipulation to thin liquidity. That includes a prior attempt by Cboe that was withdrawn in January 2019. However, the cryptocurrency market has gotten increasingly robust as big names and institutional players have piled in recently. Also, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler, is seen as potentially more sympathetic to crypto than prior officials have been.
“This time around we’re much more optimistic than we have been in the past,” Cboe Global Head of Listings Laura Morrison said in an interview. “The market has really changed. There’s a tremendous amount of information relative to the depth and breadth.”
Cboe was the first U.S. regulated exchange to offer Bitcoin futures in December 2017. The exchange stopped listing the contracts in June 2019.
A regulated product listed on a regulated exchange would allow for improved pricing, and the ETF should be less expensive than rival products on the market plus trade relatively close to its net asset value, Morrison said. She said the debut of the Purpose ETF in Canada shows there’s demand for such products.
“We’re really excited about being the first filing in this wave,” Morrison said.