U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs could win approval next week after last-minute application updates

By Suzanne McGee and Hannah Lang

(Reuters) – Investment management firms, stock exchanges and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday discussed final wording changes on filings for spot bitcoin ETFs, a step that could lead to U.S. approval of the funds for the first time next week, sources familiar with the matter said.

Issuers held discussions with SEC officials about the S-1 prospectus documents that every exchange-traded fund (ETF) must submit for approval, according to executives and representatives of five firms who declined to be identified due to the confidentiality of the ongoing talks.

Multiple issuers said Friday they expect to receive final approval of S-1 filings by late Tuesday or Wednesday.

The SEC sought what three issuers described as “minor” changes. Some asset managers are expected to amend their filings to disclose fees or identities of the market-makers for their ETFs. Those updates are due by 8 a.m. ET (1300 GMT) on Monday and could become public that day, sources familiar with the process said.

An SEC spokesperson said the agency did not comment on individual filings.

Separately, regulators have been working with exchanges to finalize 19b-4 filings, which spell out the rule changes the SEC must approve for spot bitcoin ETFs to launch. Late Friday, exchanges submitted revisions to 11 of those filings.

People familiar with the filing process have said issuers that met end-of-year filing revision deadlines may be approved to launch by Jan. 10, the date when the SEC must either approve or reject the Ark/21Shares ETF, the fund that is first in line.

Multiple asset managers have applied for permission to launch spot bitcoin ETFs since 2013, but the SEC rejected them, arguing the products would be vulnerable to market manipulation. Fourteen firms including BlackRock, Fidelity and WisdomTree submitted applications for spot bitcoin ETFs last year and await a decision from the SEC.

In a move that three issuers described as unusual, the SEC has asked issuers that hope to launch next week to also prepare written requests for the regulator to accelerate the effective date for those ETFs. The normal process is for regulators to discuss the timing more informally with issuers.

Bloomberg previously reported that SEC commissioners are expected to vote on the 19b-4 rule changes next week. A source at one of those issuers told Reuters that vote is likely to take place on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Suzanne McGee and Hannah Lang; Editing by Ira Iosebashvili and Cynthia Osterman)