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SEC Punts Decision on Wilshire Phoenix’s Bitcoin ETF Proposal to February

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has postponed making a decision on a bitcoin and U.S. Treasury bond exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal filed by Wilshire Phoenix.
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According to a document published Friday, the SEC will continue evaluating the proposal, which was first filed earlier this summer, setting Feb. 26, 2020 as its next decision date to approve or reject the ETF proposal.
The securities regulator has been loathe to approve any bitcoin ETF, rejecting more than a dozen in the last two years. The agency has pointed to concerns about market manipulation and surveillance sharing as two areas it would like to see bolstered before it would approve an ETF.
Wilshire Phoenix believes it has found a way to address these concerns. In an interview with CoinDesk in November, Wilshire founder and managing partner William Herrmann said the fact that his company's proposal, filed with NYSE Arca, is a multi-asset trust protects it against bitcoin's price volatility.
Should volatility increase, the trust will automatically rebalance itself to decrease its bitcoin exposure and increase its exposure to the Treasury bills. As volatility falls, so too does the Treasury bill exposure.
The company filed a comment letter on Dec. 18 in an attempt to further assuage these concerns. Herrmann told CoinDesk Friday that the letter "addresses how the [exchange-traded product] is structurally and fundamentally different from prior bitcoin-related ETP applications."
"The comment goes on to show how the two markets that are relevant to the Trust – referred to by the Commission as the 'regulated markets of significant size'  –  are the CME bitcoin futures market and the spot market composed of the five constituent exchanges from which pricing for the CME CF BRR is determined," he said.
The five exchanges include Coinbase, Kraken, itBit, Bitstamp and Gemini, and they represent the majority of the bitcoin-U.S. dollar market, he said. The exchanges also have surveillance-sharing agreements with the CME and CF Benchmarks, the reference rate's administrator.
It remains unclear whether the SEC will approve any bitcoin ETF in the near-term. The most recent rejection, when the SEC denied Bitwise Asset Management's latest bid, reiterated the agency's concerns.
The SEC Commissioners are reviewing that rejection, though it is unclear when they might reach a decision.


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