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SEC approval for crypto ETF

By on January 11, 2024

Yesterday, on January 10, 2024, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) made the long-awaited decision by the crypto scene to allow the listing and distribution of exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) that track the price of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, so-called Bitcoin spot ETFs. Specifically, 11 of these Bitcoin spot ETFs were approved by SEC, including those from major market players such as BlackRock, Ark Investments and Fidelity. The approval decision was preceded by a false report shortly before the SEC decision, which once again led to considerable market distortions. The approval took a year-long coordination process between the parties involved and the SEC, including a legal dispute in the USA last year regarding the approval of a Bitcoin spot ETF, in which the SEC was ordered by the court to review its legal assessment of Bitcoin spot ETFs. With the approval decision, the SEC has now complied with this, but has also pointed out, that Bitcoin is speculative and volatile and that Bitcoin has already been used to finance illegal activities in the past. The SEC is still not a supporter of Bitcoin. Nevertheless, the general expectation in the market is now a significant increase in crypto investments and a correspondingly strong rise in market capitalization, as institutional investors are now also more likely to have access to crypto investments (via ETFs).

The Bitcoin Spot ETFs approved by the SEC are not initially available in Germany. The approval only applies to the USA. It remains to be seen what impact the SEC decision will have on the German regulatory practice of the German supervisory authority (BaFin) in the future. Under the current legal situation, a comparable structure is not possible for ETFs launched and domiciled in Germany, as here in Germany ETFs are prohibited from investing in just one asset.

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Frederic Peine
Dr. Frederic Peine’s practice focuses on corporate law and M&A as well as financial services and fund regulatory law. His practice includes general corporate law advice to listed companies, national and international M&A transactions and joint ventures as well as the restructuring of companies in the national and international environment. Frederic also advises financial service providers and fund intermediaries on regulatory issues, in particular with corporate law implications.