SEC's Recent Actions Signal Possible Approval of Multiple Spot Bitcoin ETFs in Jan 2024

James Seyffart, an ETF Research Analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, has provided insights suggesting that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may be preparing to approve a series of applications for a spot market Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) in January 2024. Seyffart shared his analysis in a detailed thread on the social media platform X, where he interpreted recent SEC actions as indicative of an impending wave of ETF approvals.

On September 12, Franklin Templeton filed for a spot Bitcoin ETF.The firm’s filing with the SEC outlined a plan for a Coinbase-custodied ETF, intended to be listed on the Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc., though a ticker for the product is yet to be announced.

This move aligns Franklin Templeton with other financial giants like BlackRock, who are betting on the SEC’s possible approval—or potential judicial compulsion—to allow a spot bitcoin ETF in the public markets. Such a product would offer retail investors a straightforward way to invest in Bitcoin through their brokerage accounts, similar to how they invest in stocks and bonds.

Seyffart noted that the SEC’s unexpectedly early ruling on Franklin’s BTC ETF bid, prior to the expected decision date of January 1, could be a strategic move to pave the way for approving other pending applications. He expressed surprise at the SEC’s decision to move ahead of schedule, especially since Franklin had not submitted an updated Form S-1, a registration for asset-backed security.

The analyst anticipated that this early decision could set a precedent for a flurry of approvals in early January. However, he observed a contrast in the SEC’s handling of Hashdex’s bid, which was not ruled on early but instead was postponed to a specific date. This led Seyffart to speculate that the SEC might be aligning all BTC ETF applications for potential approval by the 10 January 2024 deadline.

Seyffart, however, tempered his predictions with caution, pointing out potential complications. He mentioned that the 19b-4 approvals (for new derivative security products) are separate from the S-1 prospectus approvals, which the SEC might not be ready to greenlight. Consequently, even if the spot Bitcoin ETFs receive approval, immediate launches might not occur. Moreover, he acknowledged the possibility of the SEC denying the bids.

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