Bitcoin ETF decision may be ‘imminent’ as VanEck, Grayscale file exchange registration form: Bloomberg Analyst

Three hopeful ETF candidates, Grayscale and Fidelity, and VanEck have now filed their form 8-A with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), marking significant steps forward in the ongoing efforts to establish a spot Bitcoin ETF. These filings are crucial as they signify the registration necessary for issuers to trade on an exchange upon receiving approval.

Following closely on the heels of Fidelity, who filed on Jan. 3, Grayscale’s filing today highlights its continued pursuit of converting its flagship Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into a spot bitcoin ETF. This move is part of a broader trend, with several prominent firms actively engaging in efforts to launch a spot Bitcoin ETF within the past year.

Current providers in the race for the first spot Bitcoin ETF include BlackRock, VanEck, Grayscale Investments, Hashdex, Valkyrie, Fidelity, Invesco, WisdomTree, Ark 21 Shares, and Franklin Templeton. As of press time, only Grayscale, VanEck and Fidelity have filed their 8-A.

What is an SEC Form 8-A?

SEC Form 8-A, also known as the Registration of Certain Classes of Securities, is a document required by the SEC from companies seeking to register securities before they can be offered on an exchange. This form requires a description of the type of securities provided, issuance details, distribution date, and terms. It also requires information about the issuer, including the exact name of the entity registering the securities, the jurisdiction of incorporation, and other essential details.

Traditionally, in the context of ETFs, the process begins when a prospective ETF manager, known as a sponsor, files a plan with the SEC to create an ETF. Once the plan is approved, the sponsor forms an agreement with an authorized participant empowered to create or redeem ETF shares.

A Form 8-A is typically filed when an ETF is approved. This form must be submitted before securities can be offered on an exchange. It becomes effective automatically 60 days after filing. If a class of securities is concurrently being registered under the Securities Act, the form becomes effective upon the effectiveness of a Securities Act registration statement. It is crucial to note that while filing this form is a necessary step in registering securities, it can be done in anticipation of approval and does not indicate that approval has been granted.

For example, in the case of a Bitcoin Strategy ETF, the company Valkyrie filed an 8-A with the SEC on Oct. 15, 2023, after the plan for the ETF was disclosed, signaling to many that the fund may soon begin trading. The fund then opened for trading seven days later.

Bloomberg’s Eric Blachunas commented on Grayscale’s filing and its Chief Legal Officer posting, “just filling out some Forms,” stating,

“Pretty much imminent yes. that said, 8-A forms don’t equal approval (which is why I’m not tweeting about them) but they part of the normal prep process so that’s good.”

Grayscale spot Bitcoin ETF conversion.

Grayscale’s submission of Form 8-A indicates their progress towards potentially getting a spot Bitcoin ETF approved. It shows their readiness to initiate the ETF when they receive the regulatory green light. Despite this, the SEC has yet to give the go-ahead for the ETF, leaving the final decision in the air.

Historically, the SEC has rejected all applications for spot bitcoin ETFs, citing worries about market manipulation and the safeguarding of investors. Although Grayscale recently won a legal battle compelling the SEC to reconsider its application, this victory doesn’t assure approval. The SEC continues to evaluate all submissions for spot Bitcoin ETFs, including that of Grayscale, with the final outcome still uncertain.

The anticipation for a spot bitcoin ETF in the U.S. has been building, especially in light of recent developments. In late December, ETF issuers like BlackRock and Fidelity submitted amended registration forms to the SEC naming their Authorized Participants, which many industry observers interpreted as a concerted push towards approving a spot bitcoin ETF. These filings detailed various operational aspects of the proposed ETFs, including the creation and redemption processes.

This wave of activity comes just days ahead of a crucial deadline for the SEC, where the regulatory body is expected to decide on the approval or disapproval of a spot bitcoin ETF. Bitcoin is up 6.89% from its Jan. 3 low as optimism returns to the market following yesterday’s $700 million liquidation event.

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