On October 19, financial news outlets in the United States competed to get interviews from the chief executive officer of ProShares, a renowned Wall Street investment banking firm, and from Gary Gensler, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reason these two gentlemen were sought after by the financial news media was the debut of the Bitcoin Strategy exchange-traded fund, which started trading under the BITO ticker symbol in the New York Stock Exchange.
The CNBC cable network managed to land interviews with both men, and they were both pleased to see an ETF making history on Wall Street. Mr. Gensler pointed out that the SEC based its decision to not object to BITO based on the fact that Bitcoin futures have been trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for about four years. This could open the door for a competing ETF because another fund manager may choose BTC futures as an underlying asset along with other investments related to cryptocurrency trading.
Mr. Gensler added that he had no issues with BITO going into the market because BITO would be subject to all of the same investment restrictions that currently apply to exchange traded funds. It is important to note that if the SEC decided to allow BITO to go into the market, it would not mean that BITO would have the same investment restrictions as most ETFs. The SEC would decide on a case by case basis as to which rules it would apply. When talking to CNBC about BITO, Mr. Gensler said that the SEC could choose to look at BITO with the same criteria that it applies to all other ETFs.
Bitcoin futures have only been traded on CME for about four years while crypto ETFs are not traded on any exchanges. CME has been somewhat criticized for the lack of regulatory oversight in its trading platform, but only insofar as the actual digital currency markets not being regulated yet. Bitcoin ETFs would have the potential to introduce a more regulated market for cryptocurrency investment as opposed to the Bitcoin futures market which has been criticized for introducing price manipulation.