Don’t Expect the SEC to Rush Bitcoin ETF Decisions

Reading Time: 2 minutes
  • The SEC likely won’t rush to approve or deny recent Bitcoin ETF filings by BlackRock and Fidelity.
  • The agency routinely misses and extends deadlines, suggesting a final decision may be delayed until March 2024.
  • The SEC is currently handling seven ETF applications and a Grayscale lawsuit

A lot has been made of the glut of Bitcoin ETFs filed by the likes of BlackRock and Fidelity in recent weeks, but history shows that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) won’t be in a rush to approve or deny them. With the ETF applications to hit the SEC’s register this week, the clock is now ticking, with the agency having interim and final deadlines by which it has to approve, deny, or extend the applications. While this could, in theory, mean that a Bitcoin ETF could be approved as soon as September, what’s far more likely is that we will be still waiting for a decision in March 2024.

Interim Deadlines are Pointless

Those who have had experience in how the SEC handles Bitcoin ETF applications will know that it doesn’t do things in a hurry. The interim deadline of 45 days need almost not be there, given that there is no way that the agency, understaffed and low on morale, will be able to decide on one let alone the five new applications that have been applied for at the same time. This is in addition to the two outstanding ones.

The SEC routinely misses the first deadline, with a firmer deadline of 180 days also in place. However, the SEC routinely misses this one too, dragging the process out by another 60 days before putting a bullet in the head of applicants, having given them a whiff of hope. 

Gensler Will Enjoy Stringing Firms Along

The SEC has delayed and then rejected every Bitcoin ETF application so far, and that was when there were only 2-3 to work on. The agency is handling seven right now, including the Grayscale lawsuit over its conversion of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to an ETF, so there is not an ice cube’s chance in hell that the first two deadlines will meet with a decision.

The SEC also knows that stringing crypto firms along will annoy the hell out of them, which is an opportunity Gary Gensler will never turn down, and if presented with a chance to, at the very least, delay a Bitcoin ETF by eight months, he will take it.