SEC Chair’s Subtle Shift on Bitcoin ETFs
United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair Gary Gensler has hinted that the regulator has been rethinking its approach to spot Bitcoin exchange-traded products following a recent Grayscale court decision.
Speaking to CNBC on Dec. 14, Gensler was questioned about the long list of pending spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications. He said the SEC has “between eight and a dozen filings” going through the process at the moment.
Past Denials and New Perspectives
“We had in the past denied a number of these applications,” he said before adding that the courts have weighed in on that. What followed was a statement suggesting that the agency could be changing its tack on Bitcoin:
“So we’re taking a new look at this based upon those court rulings.”
News anchor Sara Eisen asked whether he was referring to Grayscale. However, Gensler evaded the question, stating that everything at the SEC is done “within the laws Congress has passed and how the courts interpret them.”
A Game Changer: The Grayscale Decision
In August, a federal judge overturned the SEC’s decision to deny an ETF offering from Grayscale Investments through its Bitcoin trust.
Several large asset managers, including BlackRock, Fidelity, Grayscale, Invesco and Galaxy, VanEck and Valkyrie, are now in the race to launch a spot Bitcoin ETF. All applications have been delayed, but some analysts are confident that a batch approval will occur in early January 2024.
Gensler’s Tactical Evasiveness
In a separate interview with Bloomberg’s Kailey Leinz on Dec. 14, Gensler also sidestepped questions regarding the number of filings for spot Bitcoin products. Instead, he spoke about recent changes to the U.S. treasury market as the focus of the agency’s priorities.
Political and Market Reactions
In response to Gensler’s interview, U.S. Representative Bryan Steil commented on X (formerly Twitter):
“Chair Gary Gensler obfuscates on crypto with the press like he does at committee hearings. He does not want to explain his agency’s aggressive regulatory approach which is pushing crypto offshore.” “Gensler very rarely gives clear answers! He’s a master at hedging his words,” opined Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart.