Bitcoin (BTC), Exchange-Traded Fund—While the crypto markets exhibit continued price volatility, the industry focus remains on how the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission will handle Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds going forward. While the SEC has thus far rejected all ETF proposals, the language in the rejection has given the industry some hope in the fact that the regulatory firm recognizes the growing potential of blockchain—just not the current iteration to produce an ETF. While analysts, industry forecasters and outside pundits weigh in on the reasoning for continued ETF denial, from the format of the proposal to the companies submitting them, Abra’s CEO Bill Barhydt has a different taken on the reasoning.
Abra, a cryptocurrency payment platform and app-based exchange, is not among the current crop of companies vying for the position as head of the first approved Bitcoin ETF. However its founder and CEO Bill Barhydt’s background on Wall Street has given him greater insight to the inner-workings of the SEC and led him to conclude that cryptocurrency is largely suffering from an image problem. Speaking in an interview with CNBC , Barhydt states that he does believe a Bitcoin ETF will reach approval stage by the SEC before year’s end, but the current holdup is being driven over a lack of familiarity between the regulatory group and crypto industry. Specifically, Barhydt cites that the cryptocurrency exchange leaders that are submitting applications for ETF-approval “don’t fit the mold” of the typical executive that the commission has historically dealt with.
As much as the SEC has given reasoning for rejecting thus-far submitted ETFs, which have all received similar language in the denial reply, Barhydt blames personality and industry profile for being at the heart of the problem. Essentially, the crypto industry does not fit the mold created by typical Wall Street interaction—a feature that could continue to cause delay in receiving approval,
“I think the issue with the SEC, quite frankly, is that the people who are doing the applications don’t fit mold of who the SEC is used to approving. I used to work for Goldman Sachs, but if you look at how I’m dressed you probably wouldn’t know it. So I probably, unfortunately, couldn’t go like I am here to a meeting at the SEC to say I’m applying for the ability to issue an ETF.”
In August, Gemini cryptocurrency exchange founders and high profile investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss’s bid for a Bitcoin ETF was rejected along with several other applications. VanEck, which has been at forefront of the ETF process and is favored to be the first to receive approval, had its proposed application delayed until the end of this month. In all, the crypto markets took a massive hit in valuation following the delayed/rejected action of the SEC, with all of late July and early August’s positive price gains being eroded in the span of a week. While the current trend in market pricing looks to be making a small recovery, with BTC clinging to $7000, altcoins continue to make a major hit—leading some to conclude that the hope of an ETF approval is still driving most of the price interest.
However, not everyone has been pleased with the overwhelming shift in focus of the industry and investment base towards greater regulation. Andreas Antonopoulos, a mainstay figure and one of the most genuine supporters of blockchain and cryptocurrency, claims that the Bitcoin ETF will do more harm than good. Myopic investors, particularly those looking to cryptocurrency as a pathway to fast profit, are hanging on SEC approval of an ETF as the leverage needed to spur ‘institutional investors’: the big Wall Street firms that are waiting for a less murky landscape before they start pouring money in. Cryptocurrency purists see increased regulation as a diversion from the real use of cryptocurrency and adoption for the technology.
Regardless, Barhydt is confident ETF approval will happen sometime in the near future,
“It’s going to happen in the next year, I would actually make a bet on it. There is too much demand for it.”