For over a decade, regulatory approval for ETFs that track bitcoin’s spot price has been elusive. This changed following a pivotal court decision in favor of Grayscale Investments against the SEC. The narrative began in 2013 when the Winklevoss twins, founders of the Gemini crypto exchange, proposed the first such fund. In a significant move, BlackRock, the world’s leading asset management firm, applied for a bitcoin ETF in June 2023.

The turning point came when a federal appeals court reversed the SEC’s denial of Grayscale’s bid to transform its bitcoin trust into a bona fide ETF, criticizing the SEC’s rejection as baseless. Previously, in 2021, the SEC had allowed ETFs betting on bitcoin futures, which, however, do not directly influence the bitcoin market.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler underscored the Grayscale victory as critical in altering the regulator’s stance, though he clarified the SEC’s neutrality towards bitcoin itself and highlighted the inherent risks of bitcoin-related investments. Gensler also pointed out the regulatory non-compliance and potential conflicts of interest among crypto trading platforms and intermediaries.

The announcement of the ETF approval led to a minor dip in bitcoin’s price, while Ethereum’s value surged to $2,500 for the first time since early 2022, fueled by optimism over upcoming decisions on Ethereum ETFs. The SEC has been reviewing applications for Ethereum’s spot ETFs since November 2023.

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