Bitwise CIO discusses prospects of a bitcoin ETF

Bitwise CIO discusses prospects of a bitcoin ETF

Just days after Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ: COIN) became a public company, Bitwise Asset Management Chief Investment Officer Matt Hougan said we are “absolutely” closer to a bitcoin exchange-traded fund launch in the US.

Closer, but not there yet

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, perhaps better known as the Winklevoss twins, attempted on two separate occasions to launch a bitcoin ETF. The second attempt was rejected in 2018 as the US Securities and Exchange Commission noted the digital currency isn’t “resistant to manipulation.”

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But much has changed since then in terms of broader investment acceptance and regulatory bodies becoming more open to the digital currency.

“The crypto industry … has gone through this massive institution maceration,” Hougan told CNBC in an interview. “Every aspect of it has improved significantly over the past five years, over the past three years, and over the past year.”

Coinbase’s IPO is just “another part” of the improving sentiment towards digital currencies, he said. As such, the financial universe is certainly moving closer to a US-based bitcoin ETF but the exact timing remains unclear.

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Is SEC Chair Gensler a friend to the crypto universe?

Recently appointed SEC Chair Gary Gensler has experience dealing with cryptocurrency in his prior occupation. He taught a blockchain course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) so the general consensus is he is a close friend to the industry.

While it is great that Gensler is an industry expert and now confirmed as President Joe Biden’s SEC chief, the fact is the SEC has already been asking companies like Bitwise “fair questions” over the years. It is the responsibility of the community to address these questions and help the SEC with its decision regardless of who holds the highest title.

“All that bitcoin and cryptocurrency companies like Bitwise are looking for is a fair evaluation on the exact facts and circumstances of the market that exists today,” Hougan also told CNBC. 

It might make Gensler’s job a bit easier as he assumes control at a time when companies like Bitwise can provide “much better answers.” But any ultimate decision on approving a bitcoin ETF lies in the industry’s ability to show it is mature enough to support a new venture.

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