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VanEck’s Limited Bitcoin ETF Looks Limp at Lift-off

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Having got fed up with waiting around for the notoriously cautious SEC to decide on whether or not to launch a Bitcoin ETF, Investment management firm VanEck tried to bypass the regulators. However, this may have been a bad idea as interest in a limited offering has been muted.

A keen-eyed cryptocurrency commentator on Twitter, Alex Krüger, spotted some data emerging out of the first week of this limited offering; it did not make for great reading. 

“Three days after launch, the VanEck bitcoin trust for institutional investors has reportedly managed to issue a whopping 1 (one) basket. It has 4 bitcoins or $41,400 in assets under management. Massive,” Krüger said, sarcastically. 

Indeed, after the hype excitement that came at the announcement of this offering – intended only for so-called qualified institutional buyers, or QIBs – this poor showing really makes the launch look like a damp squib.

This product was supposed to be akin to the real thing, the thing that investors have been craving for over three years now. In fact, the official release explained the limited offering as such: “VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust 144A Shares… looks and feels like a traditional ETF.”

If this is the case, then there really should be no more bother fighting the SEC for the launch of the real thing as apparently excitement in investing in Bitcoin in a safe and regulated manner is very much lacking. 

However, perhaps it is more that the offering being put forward by VanEck is actually not quite what it says on the box. 

Industry lawyer, Jake Chervinsky, also took to Twitter to say that the product did not represent a legal ETF.

“This is misleading. The VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust is *not* an ETF. It looks exactly like the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, which was launched almost six years ago,” he warned on Twitter.

So, perhaps the institutional investors who are being targeted by this offering are a little more street-smart than VanEck gives them credit for, and they would instead hold out for the real deal. 

October will see the SEC deliver its verdict on two more applications it has been sitting on for some time now; however, these applications were delivered an informal blow by the SEC Chairman. 

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton recently spoke to CNBC and drummed up the same concerns as they have always had.

Clayton went on to say that the SEC’s questions in regard to Bitcoin ETFs were not trivial, adding:

“Given that they trade on largely unregulated exchanges, how can we be sure that those prices aren’t subject to significant manipulation? Now progress is being made, but people needed to answer those hard questions for us to be comfortable that this was the appropriate type of product,” he said ominously. 

Darryn Pollock
Darryn has been interested in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space since he heard about Bitcoin in 2015. He then decided to use his journalism degree to report on this fascinating fintech space in 2016, and has not looked back since.

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