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Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval Deemed ‘Inevitable’ by Former SEC Chairman

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton believes in the inevitability of the United States introducing a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). In an interview with CNBC, Clayton said, “It is clear that bitcoin is not a security. It is clear that bitcoin is something that retail investors want access to, institutional investors want access to, and, importantly, some of our most trusted providers who are fiduciaries or have duties of best interest want to provide this product to the retail public. So I think […] an approval is inevitable.”


Futures-based bitcoin ETFs are already established in the U.S., but the SEC has not approved a spot bitcoin ETF. In a recent Grayscale vs. SEC case, a federal court ruled that the SEC's differentiation between the two types lacked justification. The court found that fraud and manipulation risks in the bitcoin spot market were similar to futures, making the SEC's rejection of Grayscale's proposal "arbitrary and capricious" due to a lack of explanation for the differing treatment of similar products.


This legal verdict implies that any future rejection of Grayscale’s proposal would need to be grounded in fresh objections or different reasons unrelated to fraud and market manipulation risks in the spot bitcoin market. Clayton acknowledged the possibility of such a fresh rejection but remained uncertain about the specific grounds for it.


The SEC recently announced a delay in decisions on spot bitcoin ETFs proposed by various firms, including BlackRock, Fidelity, and Invesco, until at least mid-October. Clayton anticipates the likelihood of progress in this area and stated, “I expect to see progress on this going forward.”

 

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