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Cryptocurrency inches closer to mainstream acceptance with the first Bitcoin ETF in US

The US SEC’s green light comes after it held back on many occasions due to bitcoin’s volatile price swings and other concerns.

The US SEC's green light comes after it held back on many occasions due to bitcoin's volatile price swings and other concerns.

Bitcoin futures ETF (exchange traded fund) will be launched this week after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gave its tacit approval to an application by ProShares, according to a CoinDesk report. However, the ETF may not begin trading immediately. The green light comes in the wake of a post-effective amended prospectus filed by ProShares with the SEC on October 15, the report added. 

The product will track bitcoin futures contracts instead of the price of bitcoin directly. This, along with the fact that filings were done under mutual fund rules, is likely to have tipped the scales in its favour because the rules provide “significant investor protections” in the eyes of SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, as per Bloomberg

This is the first ETF to be approved by the SEC. The fund will allow people interested in bitcoin to gain exposure by offering them a regulated alternative over the actual cryptocurrency. Many proponents of bitcoin believe it will serve as a bridge for digital assets to link up with the traditional financial sector and confirms the mainstream acceptance of bitcoin. 

What held back the SEC for so long? 

The SEC turned down all bitcoin ETF applications in the past over concerns such as lack of investor protections and volatility, among others. The regulatory body is yet to adjudicate upon more than 30 current ETF applications, CoinDesk reported. 

Crypto exchange Gemini, founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, first applied for an ETF back in 2013. The Bloomberg report revealed that ETF approval has not been easy in the last few years because of the following reasons:

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  • Crypto ecosystem is plagued with investor hazards
  • Easy manipulation of prices 
  • Insufficient liquidity 
  • Bitcoin’s volatile price swings
  • Lack of information necessary to adequately value cryptocurrencies or related products
  • Concerns around validation of ownership of the coins held by funds
  • Threat from hackers

What is an ETF? 

  • An exchange traded fund (ETF) is a type of security that tracks an index, sector, commodity, or other asset, which can be purchased or sold on a stock exchange like a regular stock, as per the definition provided by Investopedia.
  • The price of an ETF’s shares will change throughout the trading day as the shares are bought and sold on the market.
  • This separates them from mutual funds which are traded only once per day after the markets close and not on an exchange.
  • An ETF can be structured to track anything from the price of an individual commodity to a large and diverse collection of securities.
  • ETFs can contain many types of investments, including stocks, commodities, bonds, or a mixture of investment types.
  • They tend to be more cost-effective and more liquid when compared to mutual funds.
  • Some of the prominent examples include Motilal Oswal NASDAQ 100, HDFC Sensex ETF, SBI – ETF Sensex, Axis Gold ETF. etc.

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