Updated Jan 10, 2024 - Economy

SEC approves spot Bitcoin ETFs after much hype

Illustration of the Wall Street bull statue with a Bitcoin as an eye.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday approved spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

Why it matters: After a decade of hype, Bitcoin will soon effectively be listed on exchanges, giving it a pathway to investment portfolios alongside stocks and bonds.

  • Axios previously reported Bitcoin ETFs could start trading as soon as Thursday.
  • The breakthrough comes after a false start Tuesday, when Bitcoin price briefly spiked to $47,680 on a since-deleted SEC tweet that claimed the funds were approved to list on national exchanges. The SEC soon after said its social media account had been "compromised."

Zoom out: Wednesday's decision marks an end to a decade-plus of rejections for so-called spot bitcoin ETFs, with the easy button finally arriving for investors who want increased exposure to cryptocurrency.

The ETF approval is also a watershed moment for SEC chair Gary Gensler, who's been a scourge of cryptocurrency in ways that have made industry players view his motives with suspicion.

  • Some of that antipathy was on display in Gensler's statement, in which he referred to bitcoin in sharply critical terms as a "speculative, volatile asset that's also used for illicit activity including ransomware, money laundering, sanction evasion, and terrorist financing."

What they're saying: "While we approved the listing and trading of certain spot bitcoin ETP shares today, we did not approve or endorse bitcoin. Investors should remain cautious about the myriad risks associated with bitcoin and products whose value is tied to crypto," Gensler said.

Between the lines: The agency approved the applications for funds that were filed by exchanges, filings known as a 19b-4s, with almost all would-be issuers' granted accelerated approval to list.

The bottom line: Those set to list: Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, Bitwise Bitcoin ETF, Hashdex Bitcoin ETF, BlackRock's iShares Bitcoin Trust, Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund, ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF, Invesco Galaxy Bitcoin ETF, VanEck Bitcoin Trust, WisdomTree Bitcoin Fund, Fidelity's Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund and the Franklin Bitcoin ETF.

Go deeper: The Bitcoin ETF Saga.

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