Landmark decision: US regulators approve first bitcoin exchange-traded funds

Securities and Exchange Commission confirms that the regulators have approved proposals for 11 ETFs
A representational image of Bitcoin. — Pixabay
A representational image of Bitcoin. — Pixabay

In a move aimed at boosting the cryptocurrency, US securities regulators have authorised a group of bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a 22-page order, said that the regulators approved proposals for 11 ETFs to list on leading exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange "on an accelerated basis."

ETFs are traded on public markets, granting investors exposure to price movements in asset prices without taking direct ownership of the underlying assets.

The funds themselves, however, do invest in the digital currency.

The authorisation of the ETFs or ETPs (exchange-traded products) — which are comparable to stocks or mutual funds as far as accessibility to everyday investors — "represents a pivotal juncture for the digital asset space, signifying a movement towards mainstream legitimacy and acceptance," said Thomas Tang, vice president of investments at Ryze Labs.

"Bitcoin ETFs, by their existence within a regulated framework, will infuse a level of institutional credibility into the realm of digital assets," Tang said.

Initially launched in the 1990s, ETFs took off in the early 2000s by investors looking for a simple and low-cost way to take bets on stock indices, commodities or a particular industrial sector.

Some $6.7 trillion were held globally in ETFs at the end of 2022, according to consultancy Oliver Wyman.

Until Wednesday, investors seeking to invest in bitcoin had to open an account on a cryptocurrency exchange and transact through a traditional medium of exchange, such as the dollar.

Wednesday's action opens up trading on vehicles offered by mainstream financial houses such as Fidelity and BlackRock.