Former CFTC chair explains why regulators should approve a Bitcoin ETF

Former CFTC chair explains why regulators should approve a Bitcoin ETF

Timothy Massad, who served as Chair of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission between 2014 and 2017, has laid out the reasons why he thinks regulators should approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund. 

In an opinion piece published on Bloomberg Wednesday, Massad said the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, should approve a Bitcoin ETF in a manner that would enhance the transparency and integrity of the nascent cryptocurrency industry. This way, investors can access the digital asset without having to buy it off exchanges or worry about self-custody.

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Massad said the ideal path for approving a Bitcoin ETF would begin with a stronger regulatory framework for cryptocurrency. However, he acknowledged the “likelihood of that happening in the near future is low." In a February interview with Cointelegraph, Massad described U.S. crypto regulations as being like “swiss cheese,” or full of holes.

In the absence of comprehensive regulations, Massad says the SEC can use the ETF listing process to improve the integrity of cryptocurrency exchanges.

“The approval would be granted on the condition that the ETF price be based on an index of exchanges meeting certain prescribed standards, similar to those for securities and derivatives exchanges,” he wrote.

U.S. securities regulators have been hesitant to approve a Bitcoin ETF due to concerns around liquidity, transparency and outright price manipulation. Several ETFs have been submitted to the SEC, and each one has been sent back to the issuer for review. The SEC is currently reviewing a handful of applications and has invited public comment on a prospectus filed by asset manager VanEck.

Related: Cathie Wood's Ark Invest teams up with 21Shares to file for Bitcoin ETF

According to at least one subject matter expert, Todd Rosenbluth, a Bitcoin ETF approval is at least one year away. The head of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA told CNBC in April that regulators are unlikely to greenlight an ETF in the near future.

North of the border, in Canada, regulators have approved multiple Bitcoin ETFs and early trends seem to indicate that the offerings are highly successful. The Purpose Bitcoin ETF continues to attract investments despite the massive correction in the Bitcoin price since May.

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