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A bitcoin ETF won’t be approved in the U.S. this year, most 2020 Outlook survey respondents say

Mike McSweeney

A significant majority of those who took part in The Block 2020 Outlook Survey don't believe U.S. regulators will approve a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) this year.

Of the 106 survey participants – drawn from the worlds of venture capital investing, financial services, and segments of the digital asset ecosystem – 82 respondents or 77.4% said "no" when asked: "does a bitcoin ETF pass in the US in 2020?"

Twenty-four responders, or 22.6 percent of the survey pool, said yes.

As elucidated in recent research and reporting from The Block, the barriers to any approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission include concerns about manipulation in the spot markets that would feed price data to any approved ETF.

The SEC provided some insight into the nature of its concerns in a letter from October in which it rejected a proposal from asset manager Bitwise (which it later moved to review, though Bitwise voluntarily drew back the proposal with plans to resubmit in the future). 

“Without data to show the lead-lag relationship between prices on the two sets of platforms or any evidence about the directionality of the lead-lag relationship — which might indicate that changes in prices on platforms with fake volume are or are not leading to changes in prices on the ‘real’ platforms — the Commission has no basis on which to conclude that prices on the ‘real’ platforms are insulated from prices in the rest of the market,” the SEC said in its letter.