Bitcoin ETFs: SEC Postpones Decision on Direxion’s Proposals Until September

Avi Rosten

The SEC (the US Securities and Exchange Commission) has said today that it has deferred its decision on approval for five bitcoin ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) until September.

The proposals, filed by Boston-based ETF provider Direxion Investments on January 4th comprise five applications: one for an ETF directly linked to BTC price, and four related to its price variation.

The SEC's report in the Federal Register – its Daily Journal – explains that the Commission:

finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change. Accordingly, the Commission, ... designates September 21, 2018, as the date by which the Commission shall either approve or disapprove the proposed rule change.

Importantly the SEC has not made any comment with respect to the highly-anticipated decision regarding ETF proposals from VanEck and SolidX – which have generated enormous expectation in the crypto-community, as well as over 250 comments on the proposal on the SEC website. The Direxion application in contrast, at the time of writing had only two comments.

With many believing this market excitement surrounding ETFs to be behind much of the bullish activity that prompted bitcoin’s substantial rise in price in the last week and today’s push past $8,000, prominent figures believe that the time is ripe for serious institutional investment into cryptocurrency.

Mike Novogratz, founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital Capital Management, in this vein recently remarked that he believes a “herd of institutional investors” is coming towards the cryptocurrency ecosystem” adding that they are “slowly coming to the realization that blockchain will be internet or Web 3.0.”

 

Featured Image Credit: "Securities and Exchange Commission" by "Scott S" via Flickr; licensed under "CC BY 2.0"

Global Task Force, U.S. Tax Agency, SEC Dominate Crypto Headlines

Regulations are ruling the crypto headlines so far this week. Over the past 24 hours, we’ve learnt the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is reportedly set to finalize new international standards for regulating cryptocurrency firms next month. The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has stated his agency has “made it a priority” to issue more comprehensive crypto tax guidance “soon.” Finally, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it would delay, once again, its decision on the VanEck and SolidX Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal.

At the time of writing, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) are trading at $7,945.4 and $252.9; a 0.54% and 0.83% jump over the past 24 hours, respectively. As for the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index, it is currently tracking at 3,822.7 (-0.6%).

Global Standards for Regulating Crypto Firms Next Month

According to reports from CoinDesk, the FATF is set to finalize new international standards for regulating cryptocurrency firms next month. These standards, they report, are widely expected to subject crypto exchanges, wallet providers, and other businesses to the “travel rule” – a colloquial term given to a rule found in the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) that requires all financial institutions to pass on certain information to the next financial institution, in certain funds transmittals involving more than one financial institution.

Introduced in 1996 in the U.S., the “travel rule” is designed to help law enforcement agencies detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering and other financial crimes by preserving an information trail about persons sending and receiving funds through funds transfer systems. The arrival of such international standards would go beyond the basic know-your-customer requirements that are widely enforced in the crypto space at present.

IRS Commissioner: More Detailed Crypto Tax Guidance ‘A Priority’

According to letter from IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig dated May 16, the agency has “made it a priority” to issue a more comprehensive tax guidance for cryptocurrencies. The Commissioner’s letter was written in response to a request from 21 Congressmen to provide clarity on tax treatment in relation to cryptocurrency holdings.

In 2014, the U.S. tax agency issued a guidance for cryptocurrency. In his May 16 response letter, Rettig revealed the IRS will “soon” issue more robust guidance. “I share your belief that taxpayers deserve clarity on basic issues related to the taxation of virtual currency transactions,” the Commissioner wrote.

SEC Delays Decision on VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF

The SEC announced the postponement of a decision regarding the VanEck SolidX bitcoin ETF proposal. The postponed ETF proposal was initially filed over a year ago. In January – amid the U.S. Government shutdown – it was withdrawn, only to be resubmitted later that month. On March 29, the commission delayed the joint proposal for the first time. The SEC must announce its decision – or, for the final possible time, postpone its decision – on the proposed bitcoin ETF no later than August 19.

Notably, the U.S. investor watchdog is seeking comments from the public in relation to the proposed VanEck SolidX bitcoin ETF. To guide commentary, they included fourteen questions in Monday’s filing. Comments must be submitted within the following 21 days, whilst rebuttals to said comments are due within the next 35 days.