The crypto markets retreated late Thursday after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) once again rejected the Winklevoss Twins' attempt to list a Bitcoin ETF, citing concerns over fraud and manipulation of the digital currency.
In 2017, the first application submitted to the SEC was the Bats Exchange ETF, with the ticker symbol BXZ.
An independent research, carried out by a Bitcoin enthusiast, Tom Alford who is an independent cryptocurrency trader and investor had shown that Bitcoin ETF has unique similarities to gold ETF. She added that the SEC's analysis focused unnecessarily on the bitcoin market when it should have narrowly addressed BZX's ability to regulate itself.
Although BZX argues that its proposal can satisfy these requirements because Bitcoin markets are inherently hard to manipulate, and because alternative means of identifying fraud and manipulation would be sufficient, the Commission concludes that, as discussed above, BZX has not established that these proffered means of compliance-alone or in combination-are sufficient to meet the requirements of Exchange Act Section 6 (b)(5).
"It precludes investors from accessing bitcoin through an exchange-listed avenue that offers predictability, transparency, and ease of entry and exit", said Peirce in her dissent.
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"More institutional participation would ameliorate numerous Commission's concerns with the bitcoin market that underlie its disapproval order", she said, adding that the ruling "sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets". An official dissent to the ruling has even been registered - effectively arguing that Bitcoin is being unfairly singled out for over-regulation. The SEC reportedly followed Exchange Act Section 6 (b)(5) when they were taking the decision of whether to accept it or not.
According to the SEC's document, BZX argues in its most recent proposal that the "geographically diverse and continuous nature of bitcoin trading makes it hard and prohibitively costly to manipulate the price of bitcoin", rendering it "generally ... less susceptible to manipulation than the equity, fixed-income and commodity futures markets".
SEC is not bending its stance "because as discussed in details below, BZX has not met its burden, under the exchange act and the commission rule of practice, to demonstrate its proposal is consistent with the requirements of the Exchange Act section 6 (b) (5), in particular, the requirements that its rules be created to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts by practices". More generally, the Commission's interpretation and application of the statutory standard sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets, a signal that may have effects far beyond the fate of Bitcoin ETPs. "While I contend that the markets are already better connected by active arbitrageurs than the Commission's order suggests, the establishment of an ETP would invite more price arbitrage and thus better connections among markets". "Because authorized participants could compose their baskets with bitcoin obtained from any source, the availability of the ETP would bring prices at different exchanges closer together".
"Greater participation by institutional investors in the bitcoin market would help to pressure exchanges to bolster their defenses against theft, encourage greater investment in custody solutions in the bitcoin space, and make it more hard for market manipulators to escape the notice of their fellow market participants".