Bitcoin Spot ETFs: Pushing Crypto to New Heights?

2023-10-25

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  • Bitcoin experienced a substantial surge, driven by the expectation of forthcoming US spot Bitcoin ETFs.

  • The US federal appeals court endorsed Grayscale Investments' pursuit of a spot Bitcoin ETF, emphasizing regulatory parity.

  • BlackRock seeds the iShares Bitcoin ETF, further legitimizing Bitcoin as an asset class

  • Ernst & Young executive Paul Brody highlighted institutional investors' growing interest in Bitcoin, with $200 trillion in assets awaiting a spot ETF approval

Bitcoin continued its impressive rally, driven by mounting expectations of increased demand from exchange-traded funds (ETFs), surging to its highest price point since May the previous year.

According to market data from Bitget Swap, Bitcoin witnessed a remarkable ascent, surging 11.39% to $34,402 as at 2:30 PM (GMT+8) on Tuesday 24 October 2023. This surge propels its year-to-date resurgence from the 2022 digital-asset downturn to over 100 percent.

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Anticipation of the potential approval of the first-ever US spot Bitcoin ETFs in the coming weeks is igniting speculative enthusiasm for the digital currency. Major asset management players such as BlackRock are actively competing to introduce these offerings. Adding to this fervor, a US federal appeals court officially validated a triumph for Grayscale Investments in its endeavor to establish a spot Bitcoin ETF, triumphing over objections from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

But what exactly are Bitcoin ETFs and how will its approval set the pace for further crypto expansion? Let's take a closer look in this article.

What Are Bitcoin ETFs?

Bitcoin ETFs are investment products that enable individuals to gain exposure to the price movements of Bitcoin without having to directly purchase and custody the cryptocurrency. These ETFs are designed to track the price of Bitcoin, allowing investors to trade them on traditional stock exchanges and brokerage accounts. The key distinction is that the custody of the underlying Bitcoin is held by the ETF manager, simplifying the investment process for a broader range of investors.

Bitcoin ETFs can be broadly categorized into two primary types:

Bitcoin Spot ETFs

As the name suggests, Bitcoin Spot ETFs are directly linked to the current price of Bitcoin in the spot market. When you invest in a spot ETF, you effectively hold shares in a fund that owns physical Bitcoin. This type of ETF is tailored to track the spot price of Bitcoin, representing its real-time market value. Spot ETFs offer a straightforward and uncomplicated means to participate in Bitcoin's price fluctuations without the complexities associated with trading the cryptocurrency directly.

Bitcoin Futures ETFs

Bitcoin Futures ETFs, on the other hand, are tied to Bitcoin futures contracts. These contracts derive their value from the anticipated future price of Bitcoin, as opposed to its present market price. Futures ETFs are typically associated with heightened risk and complexity compared to spot ETFs because they involve contracts with specific expiration dates. Investors engaging with futures ETFs must closely monitor the performance of futures contracts and their influence on the ETF's price.

Historically, Bitcoin ETFs in the United States have predominantly focused on Bitcoin futures contracts. However, the crypto industry has eagerly awaited the introduction of spot Bitcoin ETFs, which would directly track the cryptocurrency's price and holdings. This crucial distinction could open new horizons for investors seeking direct Bitcoin exposure.

Advantages of Bitcoin ETFs

Bitcoin ETFs offer a range of compelling advantages that can significantly impact the cryptocurrency market and cater to the diverse needs of investors:

Market Legitimization

The introduction of spot Bitcoin ETFs plays a pivotal role in legitimizing Bitcoin as a distinct asset class. This development holds the potential to enhance the credibility of Bitcoin in the eyes of traditional investors and financial institutions. With increasing recognition, more market participants may consider Bitcoin as a viable investment option.

Increased Liquidity

Spot Bitcoin ETFs serve as a catalyst for expanding Bitcoin's accessibility. As more investors participate in the cryptocurrency market through ETFs, liquidity is poised to see a notable boost. Enhanced liquidity can translate to a reduction in price volatility, fostering a more stable and predictable environment for market participants.

Price Appreciation

The inception of a Bitcoin ETF could ignite heightened demand for the cryptocurrency. To back ETF shares, the ETF provider typically needs to acquire real Bitcoin. This increased demand may exert upward pressure on Bitcoin's price, potentially resulting in price appreciation. Investors might benefit from the positive impact on Bitcoin's value.

Regulated Exposure

ETFs are regulated financial instruments, aligning seamlessly with securities laws. This regulatory backing offers investors a safeguarded avenue for engaging in the cryptocurrency market. The risk of fraud or theft is considerably reduced, ensuring that investors can explore the cryptocurrency space within a well-defined and secure framework.

Recent SEC Ruling and BlackRock's Seeding Plan

A significant turning point in the journey toward spot Bitcoin ETFs was the recent SEC ruling involving investment giant BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world and, by extension, the largest asset manager to apply for a spot Bitcoin ETF. BlackRock's move to seed the iShares Bitcoin ETF has sparked optimism in the crypto community. Seeding in this context refers to the initial capital injection into the ETF by the issuer. While the amount of seeding might not be colossal, it carries significant symbolic weight.

Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst Eric Balchunas also stated on X / Twitter that the iShares Bitcoin Trust “has been listed on the DTCC” with the ticker “$IBTC.”

“This doesn’t mean it’s technically approved,” Mr Balchunas said in an interview. “It’s not home free. But this is pretty much checking every box that you need to check before you launch an ETF. When we see a ticker added, those things are usually right before launch.”

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The move hints at BlackRock's anticipation of the approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF, further legitimizing Bitcoin as an asset class. Notably, BlackRock boasts a nearly flawless record of ETF approvals, making its foray into the Bitcoin ETF space a noteworthy event. Many industry experts believe that the SEC's approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF is a matter of "when" rather than "if." This approval could happen before the end of the year or during the first quarter of 2024, according to some predictions.

"We're hearing from clients around the world about the need for crypto," BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told Fox Business in an interview on Monday, 23 October. "I believe crypto will play that type of role as a flight-to-quality," he continued.

Notably, the ticker for BlackRock's Bitcoin spot ETF IBTC disappeared and then reappered again a few hours later on the DTCC website, with Bitcoin's price slumping 3% during the hours of its disappearance - indicating that much of the token's trading activity is currently hinged upon watching ETF-related developments.

In response to the massive speculation on the listing (which ended up crashing the DTCC website), a DTCC spokesperson mentioned that "appearing on the list is not indicative of an outcome for any outstanding regulatory or other approval processes".

Nevertheless, this has not stopped the Web3 world from keeping its eyes peeled on the status of BlackRock's Bitcoin spot ETF.

Concurrently, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also issued a mandate on October 23, essentially instructing the SEC to reevaluate and revisit its decision regarding the conversion of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into a spot Bitcoin ETF.

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In the prior hearing, the court emphasized the importance of the SEC having an equal likelihood of detecting fraudulent or manipulative conduct in both the Bitcoin and Bitcoin futures markets. This was because these markets share substantial similarities, with the primary distinction being the presence of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) overseeing the futures market.

This new mandate reaffirmed the court's previous decision from August 29, in which the court ruled in favor of Grayscale, criticizing the denial of Grayscale's proposal as "arbitrary and capricious." It's worth noting that the SEC had already announced, about ten days before, that it did not intend to appeal the earlier ruling. It's worth noting, however, that the SEC has not yet granted approval for any spot crypto ETFs to be listed on US exchanges. However, it has given the green light to investment products associated with Bitcoin and Ether futures.

"The Grayscale team looks forward to continuing to work constructively with the SEC to convert GBTC into an ETF," Grayscale spokesperson Jennifer Rosenthal said in a statement after the case was concluded on Monday. "GBTC is ready to operate and we intend to represent our investors take action as soon as possible.”

The recent ruling and BlackRock's bold step have ignited a wave of optimism among cryptocurrency enthusiasts and major financial institutions alike. It's important to note that other financial giants, such as Fidelity and VanEck, also have spot Bitcoin ETF applications pending SEC approval.

Implications for the Future of Bitcoin and Crypto (and TradFi)

The approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF holds the potential to reshape the crypto landscape. Bitcoin's normalization as a recognized asset class could attract a broader range of investors, including institutions. The financial backing of firms like BlackRock could further have a significant impact on Bitcoin's price and liquidity.

While many hail the arrival of Bitcoin ETFs as a boon for the crypto industry, it also raises questions about centralized entities gaining more influence in a space that was initially built on decentralization principles. There are concerns about the concentration of power in the hands of large asset managers, potentially affecting the direction and nature of the crypto market.

However, there's also the possibility for coexistence between traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi) within the crypto space. Each serves different demographics and provides unique services. Major institutions can make DeFi more accessible to a broader audience and bolster adoption, especially in underserved regions.

During a special appearance on CNBC's StreetSigns, Paul Brody, an executive at Ernst & Young (EY), highlighted the growing interest of institutional investors in the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

Brody pointed out that SEC has refrained from approving a spot ETF for Bitcoin in recent years. As a result, there's a significant pent-up demand for Bitcoin in the institutional sector.

To underscore the scale of this demand, Brody revealed that a staggering $200 trillion in assets under management (AUM) held by the "Big Four" asset managers is on the sidelines, eagerly awaiting approval for a spot ETF from the relevant regulatory bodies.

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Brody continued by explaining that many investors are drawn to Bitcoin not just for its potential as a decentralized value transfer mechanism but also as an asset.

This shift in perspective implies that a growing number of TradFi investors are warming up to the idea of gaining exposure to Bitcoin, and by extension crypto in general, through ETFs in the coming months.

Purchase Bitcoin using Bitget Swap!

Feeling the bull rush and wanting to get your hands on some BTC? Bitget Swap offers a convenient way for you to do just that.

Step 1: Select "All Mainnets" at the top of your main homepage.

Step 2: Enter "Bitcoin" into the search field and add the Bitcoin network to your Bitget Wallet.

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Step 3: Return to your main homepage and tap on "Swap", which will bring you to the Bitget Swap dashboard.

Step 4: Tap on "Swap" again and fill in the details of your swap.

Step 5: Select "Confirm" and proceed with the on-screen instructions to complete your BTC purchase.

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This concludes our quick guide on how you can purchase BTC easily using Bitget Swap! Explore over 250,000 cryptocurrencies with Bitget Wallet today.

Closing

The cryptocurrency market has been electrified by recent developments, with Bitcoin soaring to new heights. The anticipation of the first-ever US spot Bitcoin ETFs has set the stage for a potential paradigm shift in the world of crypto, with leading asset management giants including BlackRock and Fidelity vying to introduce these groundbreaking offerings, thereby bolstering the adoption of digital assets. This, together with the recent court ruling in favour of Grayscale, suggests a pivotal moment in the journey towards introducing cryptocurrency into the mainstream.

 

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