Today, January 9, ProShares, Raffety Assets Management and VanEck all withdrew their Bitcoin-related ETF proposals from SEC consideration, at the regulator’s request. Rafferty Assets Management commented that the SEC “expressed concerns regarding the liquidity and valuation” of the underlying asset.”  

None of the withdrawn proposals were actually Bitcoin ETFs, per se. An actual Bitcoin ETF is widely seen as the holy grail of mainstream financial acceptance, as it would require the purchase of actual Bitcoins in order to “back” investments in the ETF. All of the proposals withdrawn today were related to Bitcoin futures markets. Nonetheless, the proposed ETFs had been greeted with pleasure by the Bitcoin community, which saw them as a stepping stone to a true Bitcoin ETF.

Optimism challenged

Indeed, Bitcoin investors believed they had reason to be optimistic following the release of regulated Bitcoin futures markets last month. In rejecting the Winklevoss ETF proposal early last year, the SEC specifically left the door open to approving a Bitcoin ETF in the event that regulated futures markets emerged. The SEC’s unwillingness to consider ETFs based on these futures market is certainly a cause for concern.

Nonetheless, it’s wise to remember that the regulatory wheel turns slowly. Chris Concannon, CEO of Cboe, told Business Insider last month:

“A healthy market is a healthy underlying market, derivatives markets, and an ETF. That will take time.”