Fidelity joins the rush for a bitcoin ETF, following BlackRock, Ark Invest and others

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A sign marks a Fidelity Investments office in Boston, Massachusetts, April 28, 2022.
Brian Snyder | Reuters

Asset management giant Fidelity Investments is again trying to launch a spot bitcoin ETF, according to a Thursday filing.

The move comes two weeks after BlackRock filed for a spot bitcoin ETF, which has long been opposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Other firms appear to have taken BlackRock’s filing as a sign that the SEC’s stance could soon change. Since then, WisdomTree, VanEck and Invesco have taken the initial steps toward their own funds. Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest filed for changes to its proposed bitcoin fund on Wednesday that brought it closer in-line with BlackRock’s application.

Thursday’s filing is a proposed rule from the Cboe Bzx Exchange to list the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust, the name of Fidelity’s previously proposed bitcoin ETF that was denied by the SEC. The exchange has made similar filings for other firms over the past two weeks.

The SEC has so far rejected every spot bitcoin fund application on which it has made a decision. The commission is in a legal battle with Grayscale about its decision to block the conversion of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into an ETF. A decision in that case is expected later this year.

One of the SEC’s key concerns about a spot bitcoin product is about transparency in the market and the potential for manipulation. The BlackRock filing includes a proposed surveillance-sharing agreement that could alleviate those concerns. The subsequent filings have similar proposals.

The SEC has already allowed the creation of ETFs that track bitcoin futures contracts, including the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) that has more than $1 billion in assets. The first leveraged bitcoin futures fund hit the market on Tuesday.

The new rush for ETFs appears to have buoyed prices for bitcoin. The digital currency was trading near $30,500 on Thursday afternoon, up from below $26,000 prior to the BlackRock filing.

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