The cryptocurrency industry is eagerly awaiting a potentially momentous decision from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding Grayscale Investments. This decision, expected to be announced in the coming days, could have significant implications for the approval of Bitcoin exchange-traded products (ETPs). All eyes are on Blackrock’s recent filing, along with other asset managers, adding Coinbase as a partner under a ‘surveillance sharing agreement’.
Grayscale Investments is challenging the SEC’s refusal to approve its Bitcoin ETP application. The firm argues for a fair and consistent approach to all issuers in light of the SEC’s acceptance of leveraged Bitcoin futures ETFs while rejecting spot Bitcoin ETF applications. Grayscale considers this decision by the SEC as inconsistent and arbitrary. The upcoming announcement from the SEC marks a pivotal point in this ongoing dispute.
Implications for the Crypto Industry
Grayscale’s contention with the SEC goes beyond its proprietary interests and has broader implications for the crypto industry as a whole. Initially, Grayscale filed to list the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) for trading on the NYSE Arca exchange, but the request was rejected by the SEC in 2022. Grayscale responded with a legal challenge, highlighting the apparent inconsistency in policy demonstrated by the SEC’s approval of Bitcoin futures ETFs while denying spot Bitcoin ETF applications.
Multiple asset managers, including BlackRock, ArkInvest, and VanEck, have recently submitted spot Bitcoin ETP filings to the SEC. These filings detail intended surveillance-sharing agreements with crypto exchange Coinbase, which some believe could be the key to SEC approval. However, Grayscale maintains that surveillance sharing with an unregulated platform like Coinbase is not sufficient to meet the criteria for approving a Bitcoin ETP, citing prior indications from the SEC.
Chances of Favorable Decision
According to Bloomberg’s senior legal analyst, there is a 70% chance of a favorable decision regarding Grayscale’s case. However, stakeholders are advised to prepare for any outcome, as certainty remains elusive in the domain of digital assets. The analyst cautions against making assumptions and emphasizes the need for resilience in the face of uncertainty.
Potential Timeline and Decision
Finance lawyer Scott Johnsson provides insights into the potential timeline for Grayscale’s case. He notes that in March 2021 and 2022, 94% of cases argued received decisions within 160 days of oral arguments. Since Grayscale’s oral argument in March 2023, 160 days have passed, suggesting that a verdict is imminent. Considering the typical procedure of DC law clerks cycling in and out in August, Johnsson suggests that a decision can be expected this month.
Observing past cases argued before the DC Circuit, Johnsson highlights that all March 2022 cases were decided within 154 days, except for a single outlier at 170 days. This further strengthens the expectation of a decision in the near future. The timing of the decision, guided by legal norms and procedural routines, adds crucial context to the anticipation surrounding the SEC’s ruling on Grayscale’s case.
The pending decision from the SEC regarding Grayscale Investments could mark a significant turning point for the approval of Bitcoin ETPs. With various asset managers aligning themselves with Coinbase through surveillance-sharing agreements, the industry awaits the SEC’s stance. While there is optimism regarding a favorable decision, stakeholders must remain prepared for any outcome, recognizing the unpredictable nature of the crypto sphere. The potential timeline provided by a finance lawyer sheds light on the imminent verdict, offering insights into the expected timing of the SEC’s decision. As the crypto industry braces for change, these developments illustrate the complex relationship between regulators and digital assets.