A Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund, which is a Bitcoin derivative product that allows people to bet on Bitcoin price without owning the underlying asset, is not to be expected any time soon. Instead, it would have to wait until Congress strengthens cryptocurrency regulation according to former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Timothy Massad.
Meanwhile, all expectations to approve a Bitcoin ETF have been thwarted with many applications continuing to pile dust at the SEC office. More than a dozen others have been rejected already. Elsewhere in North America, three Bitcoin ETFs have been approved this year, a move that makes people see the U.S. as lax in approving one.
The comments from Massad came a few days after a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce said the U.S. regulator should have approved an ETF already, arguing that its rejection was sort of double standard by the commission. According to the commissioner, SEC is demanding assurances from ETF applicants beyond what normally demands traditional equity-based assets.
However, Massad contradicts this by saying that the current conditions under which Bitcoin is traded do not favor approval going by the CFTC standards. The only way out, he says, would be for CFTC to approve an ETF under certain standard and security requirements, hence forcing crypto exchanges and ETF applicants to implement those standards.
For instance, the methods they propose to use to derive the price of Bitcoin are one thing that could raise alarm to the SEC, argues Massad. For example, most applicants propose to use Bitcoin price indices derived from crypto exchanges that are unregulated, and SEC sees this as a potential for fraud and manipulation of the ETF.
The approval decision is also currently complicated by the fact that the SEC does not have the authority to regulate either Bitcoin since it is not a security, or the exchanges cryptocurrencies trade on. It can only regulate derivate exchanges.
However, according to Massad, approving the ETF would be a good thing for investors and regulators.