US SEC Postpones Decision on Direxion's Bitcoin (BTC) ETF Proposals

The US securities regulator said it needs two more months time to decide whether to approve five Bitcoin-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) proposed by investment firm Direxion Asset Management.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rescheduled till September its decision on whether to approve five Bitcoin-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) proposed by investment firm Direxion Asset Management.

The ETF proposals in question were submitted by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in January. According to the filing, the funds are aimed to offer investors “the opportunity to obtain daily short, leveraged long or leveraged short exposure to the lead month bitcoin futures contract” traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), on Cboe Global Markets (CBOE), or on any other US exchange that may start trading Bitcoin (BTC) futures contracts.

The leveraged ETFs, which will be listed on the NYSE Arca platform if given a green light by the SEC, will aim for “investment results […] that correlate positively to either 125%, 150%, or 200% the daily return of the target benchmark”.

The SEC typically makes decisions within 45 days of submission, but according to an official document released by the US Government Publishing Office on Tuesday, the agency is still mulling the application and will announce its ruling on September 21.

“The Commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change. Accordingly, the Commission [...] designates September 21, 2018, as the date by which the Commission shall either approve or disapprove the proposed rule change,” the SEC stated.

Notably, the Commission has not made any comment with respect to the highly-anticipated decision regarding the ETF proposal by VanEck and SolidX, submitted by CBOE last month. Money management firm VanEck and blockchain company SolidX have offered to list an ETF based on actual Bitcoins rather than futures. The filing has generated much hype in the crypto community, as well as over 250 comments on the SEC website. The Direxion application in contrast, has so far received only two comments.

BTC price climbs on ETF approval speculation

Over the past 24 hours, Bitcoin’s price has surged to more than $8,289, marking an over 40% increase in the past month. According to analysts and market watchers, one of the drivers of this bullish activity is speculation that an ETF for the headline digital asset is coming soon.

Several publications have in recent days cited anonymous sources as saying that an approval of CBOE’s application is 90% likely next month. However, some believe that the SEC will similarly postpone this proposal closer to the presumed date of August 10.

Some analysts are worried about Bitcoin ETFs due to the volatility of such leveraged funds. Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Atlantis Asset Management, told CNBC earlier this year:

“[It] would be insane for them to actually approve this. Then they're putting a rubber stamp on it as an asset, and I don't think governments want to go there yet. It just seems as though it's not something I'd want to put my clients into in any way, shape or form. You can only be embarrassed.”

However, some believe that the move would help bring Bitcoin into the investment mainstream. For NYSE, the ETFs proposed by Direxion will serve to “enhance competition among market participants, to the benefit of investors and the marketplace”.