BlackRock, Grayscale, and Bitwise Amend ETF Filings Ahead of SEC Decision

Key Takeaways:

Increased transparency and surveillance measuresThe amendments include enhanced transparency measures and agreements with surveillance-sharing partners. This aims to address the SEC’s concerns about market manipulation and ensure better oversight of the trading activities related to the ETFs. 

Clarifications on custody and securityThe filings now provide more detailed information on how the digital assets will be securely stored and managed. This includes specifics about the custodial solutions in place, the security protocols for safeguarding the assets, and how the ETF will handle potential security breaches. More apparent custody arrangements are intended to reassure the SEC about the safety and integrity of the underlying assets.

Broader market data usageThe amendments also highlight the use of broader and more diverse market data to determine the value of the Bitcoin the ETFs hold. This includes incorporating data from a broader range of exchanges and trading platforms. By using a more comprehensive set of data points, the firms aim to present a more accurate and reliable valuation method, addressing the SEC’s concerns about price manipulation and ensuring a fair representation of Bitcoin’s market value.

As the cryptocurrency market matures, major financial players strive to bring more legitimacy and accessibility to digital assets.

On May 22 2024, the Nasdaq Stock Market received an amended 19b-4 application from asset management firm BlackRock, which removed provisions for staking from its spot Ether exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Grayscale and Bitwise amended their applications with the New York Stock Exchange Arca. Approval of these 19b-4 filings by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would be a significant step towards allowing the listing and trading of spot Ether ETFs on these exchanges. 

The amended BlackRock filing noted, “Neither the Trust, nor the Sponsor, nor the Ether Custodian […] nor any other person associated with the Trust will, directly or indirectly, engage in action where any portion of the Trust’s ETH becomes subject to the Ethereum proof-of-stake validation or is used to earn additional ETH or generate income or other earnings.” Among the most anticipated developments are Bitcoin ETFs, which offer mainstream investors a more straightforward way to gain exposure to Bitcoin (BTC). BlackRock, Grayscale, and Bitwise have recently amended their ETF filings in anticipation of a crucial decision by the United States SEC.

BlackRock’s Strategic Amendments

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has significantly adjusted its ETF filing to align with regulatory expectations. The amendments include enhanced risk disclosures and detailed descriptions of the fund’s investment strategy. These changes will likely address the SEC’s concerns about market manipulation and the lack of transparency in crypto markets. BlackRock’s proposed ETF, known as the iShares BTC Trust, is planned to provide investors with direct exposure to BTC without the need to hold the crypto themselves. 

By making these amendments, BlackRock demonstrates its commitment to complying with regulatory standards and its confidence in the potential approval of its ETF. The firm’s move reflects a broader trend among traditional financial institutions, increasingly recognising the importance of digital assets and the need for regulatory compliance to gain mainstream acceptance. On May 21 2024, Fidelity, VanEck, Franklin Templeton, Invesco Galaxy, and ARK 21Shares made comparable application amendments, eliminating staking. The SEC is anticipated to decide on VanEck’s application by May 23, 2024, the final deadline for determining whether to approve or deny the listing and trading.

Grayscale’s Conversion Ambitions

Grayscale, known for its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), has amended its ETF filing to convert GBTC into an ETF. The amendments include updates to the trust’s investment objectives and structural details to better align with SEC guidelines. One of the critical changes in Grayscale’s filing is the incorporation of a surveillance-sharing agreement with a major US-based crypto exchange. This agreement aims to mitigate the SEC’s concerns about potential market manipulation by enhancing the ability to monitor and share trading data. 

Grayscale’s efforts to transition GBTC into an ETF underscore its commitment to providing a more efficient and investor-friendly vehicle for BTC exposure. The conversion of GBTC into an ETF is highly anticipated. This move would unlock significant value for investors by narrowing the discount at which GBTC shares trade relative to the underlying BTC. 

Bitwise’s Innovative Approach

Bitwise Asset Management has also taken proactive steps by amending its Bitcoin ETF filing. Bitwise is known for its innovative approach to crypto investments, and its latest amendments reflect a focus on addressing regulatory concerns while enhancing investor protections. Bitwise’s updated filing includes detailed risk disclosures and a comprehensive explanation of its methodology for pricing BTC. The firm has also emphasised its commitment to maintaining high standards of security and custody for the underlying BTC assets.

These amendments reassure the SEC and investors that Bitwise’s ETF will operate transparently and securely. Bitwise has also highlighted its experience managing crypto index funds, uniquely positioning it to offer a Bitcoin ETF that meets regulatory standards. By addressing potential points of contention head-on, Bitwise aims to demonstrate its readiness to comply with the SEC’s stringent requirements and bring a reliable Bitcoin ETF to market.

Implications for the Bitcoin ETF Landscape

The amendments made by BlackRock, Grayscale, and Bitwise to their ETF filings signify a critical phase in the ongoing efforts to gain SEC approval for Bitcoin ETFs. These amendments are not just about compliance; they represent a broader strategic alignment with regulatory expectations and a commitment to fostering a transparent and secure environment for crypto investments. The SEC’s decision on these ETF filings is highly anticipated, as it will have significant implications for the crypto market. 

Approval of one or more Bitcoin ETFs would mark an important milestone in the mainstream acceptance of digital assets, potentially leading to increased investment flows and more excellent market stability. Conversely, if the SEC continues withholding approval, it may prompt further refinement of ETF proposals and ongoing dialogue between regulators and the crypto industry. Introducing Bitcoin ETFs would give investors a more accessible and regulated means of gaining exposure to BTC, reducing the complexities and risks associated with direct crypto investments. It would also likely drive greater institutional participation in the crypto market, contributing to its maturation and stability.


Fhumulani Lukoto Cryptocurrency Journalist

Fhumulani Lukoto holds a Bachelors Degree in Journalism enabling her to become the writer she is today. Her passion for cryptocurrency and bitcoin started in 2021 when she began producing content in the space. A naturally inquisitive person, she dove head first into all things crypto to gain the huge wealth of knowledge she has today. Based out of Gauteng, South Africa, Fhumulani is a core member of the content team at Coin Insider.

View all posts by Fhumulani Lukoto >

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