March 2, 2024

Bitcoin ETF launch could be delayed more than a month after SEC approval

A total of 12 asset managers have filed for a spot Bitcoin ETF with the U.S. SEC, with the first window for approval from the SEC opening on Nov. 8.

With the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s first window opening up for the approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF, analysts have noted that even if the SEC approves a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF), it will be a month before the actual launch.

The expected delay in launch following a potential SEC approval would be due to the two-step process of launching an ETF. For an issuer to start a Bitcoin ETF, it must get SEC approval from the Trading and Markets division on its 19b-4 filing and the Corporate Finance division on the S-1 filing or prospectus.

The main focus of the Corporate Finance division includes fund operations details and risk disclosures. To date, of the 12 Bitcoin ETF applications, nine issuers have submitted revised prospectuses showing they have communicated with Corporate Finance. Market analysts believe the Bitcoin ETF launch may get delayed if the SEC approves the 19b-4 approvals before prospectus documents are signed off.

Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart noted that even if 19b-4 is approved, an S-1 approval could take weeks or months between approval and launch.

There is an eight-day window for the SEC, starting on Nov. 8 and ending on Nov. 17, to approve the first spot Bitcoin ETF. Although market pundits have increased the chances of approval to 90%, they believe approval won’t come until early next year.

The SEC had earlier extended the deadline for comment on the spot Bitcoin ETF until Nov. 8 for the comment period.

Related: Spot Bitcoin ETF hype reignited zest for blockchain games: Yat Siu

The spot Bitcoin ETF race in the U.S. began when the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, filed its application. While Fidelity and a few other asset managers have also filed for spot Bitcoin ETFs, most faced rejections or withdrew their applications.

The 2023–2024 cycle, however, has prompted many market commentators to predict a possible approval for the spot ETF, giving it as high as a 90% chance.

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