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What the SEC needs to do to approve the Bitcoin ETF

The SEC will make a big statement on bitcoin in the coming days.
Investors around the world are closely watching the Securities and Exchange Commission this week, as the regulatory body is set to make a ruling on whether to approve the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF.
Here’s how the ruling could come down.
Approval by default
In what would be an unprecedented move, the SEC could essentially make its decision by making no decision at all.
According to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, a proposed rule change—in this case, approving the fund—“shall be deemed to have been approved by the Commission if the Commission does not approve or disapprove the proposed rule change... within the period described.”
That period comes to an end on Saturday, though a ruling could be issued Friday, the final business day before the deadline.
(H/T to The Merkle, a cryptocurrency news site.)
In other words, if the SEC doesn’t issue a ruling one way or another, the proposed fund would be approved by default. Given that no ETF has been brought to market in this way, this is considered an exceedingly unlikely outcome, particularly given the high-profile nature of the proposed ETF, which would be the first to track bitcoin and could legitimize the digital currency in the process.
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Neither the SEC nor Winklevoss Capital returned a request for comment, while representatives from major exchanges confirmed the rule applied to ETFs but otherwise declined to comment.
Setting a precedent of this sort with this ETF might be the kind of compromise that doesn’t please anyone. Advocates for bitcoin are looking for a sign of support from regulators, while the fund’s opponents want their concerns to be addressed.
Formal decision
“Given the volatility of bitcoin, and how this ETF would be quite different than most things that are out there, investors are best served if the SEC offers a formal ruling,” said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA. “It would be a problem if they had a problem with the product and they released it by not ruling. You can’t put this toothpaste back in the tube.”
Bitcoin is notoriously volatile, though it has recently hit record highs—even surpassing the price of gold—in part due to growing bets that the ETF will be approved.
However, most analysts are skeptical that the SEC will sign off on the years-in-the-making fund, even given the deregulatory focus of the Donald Trump administration.
Phil Bak, the former head of ETF listings at the New York Stock Exchange, recently noted that there was no easy way to short bitcoin, which “means there could be liquidity issues that make it trade off its fair value, which is a problem from the SEC’s perspective.” He added, “there’s no incentive for regulators to be innovative.”