Although the crypto market seems to believe that SEC-approved spot Ethereum ETFs are just around the corner judging by Ethereum’s price action since January 11, the day that the SEC approved eleven spot Bitcoin ETFs, JPMorgans most prominent blockchin/crypto analyst is not so sure.
Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, an analyst at JPMorgan, told The Block that for the SEC to approve spot Ethereum ETFs by May, it would need to categorize Ethereum as a commodity, akin to Bitcoin. However, he believes this is uncertain, giving it no more than a 50% chance of happening before the deadline.
The SEC recently approved spot Bitcoin ETFs after years of rejections. This development has led to speculation about Ethereum ETFs being next, especially as Ether’s price surged by 18.08% in the past week, outperforming Bitcoin’s 1.87% gain.
Panigirtzoglou noted that the SEC still seems to view all cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin as securities. This stance was echoed last year by SEC Chair Gary Gensler, who has suggested that tokens using staking protocols, like Ethereum’s ETH, could be considered securities under U.S. law. Gensler has refrained from explicitly stating whether ETH is a security.
In the context of approving spot Bitcoin ETFs, Gensler recently cautioned that this should not be interpreted as the SEC’s readiness to approve listing standards for crypto asset securities.
While JPMorgan remains cautious, other analysts like Bloomberg Intelligence’s James Seyffart are more optimistic about the approval of spot ETH ETFs.
The SEC’s approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs was partly influenced by its previous approval of Bitcoin futures ETFs and a federal court ruling mandating the SEC to review its rejection of Grayscale’s attempt to convert its Bitcoin Trust into a spot ETF.
Several firms, including BlackRock and Fidelity, have filed for spot Ethereum ETFs recently, indicating a growing interest in Ethereum-based investment products.
On January 12, SEC Chair Gary Gensler joined CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to discuss with co-anchors Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Kernen the recent approval of 11 spot Bitcoin ETFs by the SEC. Gensler explained that this decision was a culmination of long-standing considerations that began during Jay Clayton’s tenure as SEC Chair. He highlighted the significant influence of the recent Grayscale court decision in guiding the SEC’s approach, emphasizing adherence to the rule of law and court interpretations.
Gensler cautioned investors about Bitcoin, clarifying that the SEC’s approval of Bitcoin ETFs does not constitute an endorsement of the cryptocurrency. He pointed out Bitcoin’s speculative nature and its limited use as a payment mechanism, mainly in illicit activities like money laundering and sanction evasion.
Discussing Bitcoin’s centralization, Gensler noted that despite its decentralized ledger, control and production of Bitcoin are concentrated among a few entities. This, he said, contradicts Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision of decentralization.
Addressing the broader cryptocurrency market, Gensler raised concerns about fraud and conflicts within the sector. He suggested that many crypto tokens might be classified as securities and should, therefore, adhere to federal regulations.
In response to criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren and others, Gensler maintained his respect for diverse opinions while reaffirming his commitment to legal and regulatory frameworks. He specified that the SEC’s current stance on Bitcoin as a non-security commodity doesn’t necessarily extend to other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. Gensler indicated that the approval of Bitcoin ETFs doesn’t set a precedent for other crypto assets, suggesting a cautious and measured approach to future cryptocurrency ETFs.