A new compliance milestone in the crypto world: Ethereum spot ETF finally approved

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A new compliance milestone in the crypto world: Ethereum spot ETF finally approved

On May 23rd, local time in the United States, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officially approved all Ethereum ETFs, providing investors with a new opportunity to invest in Ethereum through traditional financial channels. This decision is seen as a major endorsement of the cryptocurrency industry, becoming the second cryptocurrency ETF approved by the SEC after the spot Bitcoin ETF.

It should be noted that although the 19 b-4 forms of multiple Ethereum spot ETFs have been approved, including BlackRock, Fidelity and Grayscale, ETF issuers still need their S-1 registration statements to take effect before they can officially start trading. The SEC has just begun discussing the S-1 form with the issuer, and it may take time to revise it multiple times. It is not clear how long this process will take, but Bloomberg analysts speculate that it may take several weeks.

After the approval, the price of Ethereum rose slightly and fluctuated around $3,800, reaching a high of $3,856. It is currently reported at $3,807, a 24-hour increase of 1.3%. The fluctuation after the news was not as large as in the previous few days. Obviously, the expectation of Ethereums ETF approval has been accepted by the market in the past few days.

A new compliance milestone in the crypto world: Ethereum spot ETF finally approved

Ethereum price fluctuations. Source: Coinmarketcap

Milestones

This weeks changing situation

Since September last year, major fund institutions have begun to apply for Ethereum ETFs, including spot and futures. The earliest one was VanEck, which is why the SEC needs to make a decision on May 23. However, due to various reasons (see the previous article Overnight Bullish Return: ETH Soared 20%, Will the SEC Surprise Approve Ethereum Spot ETF? ), the market is not optimistic about its approval rate.

But earlier this week, Bloomberg analyst Eric Balchunas raised the chances of spot Ethereum ETF approval from 25% to 75%. He said, I heard some rumors this afternoon that the SEC might make a 180-degree turn on this issue (for some political reasons), so everyone is preparing now.

Later, Fox reporter Eleanor Terrett said that a source claimed that the current development of the spot Ethereum ETF is that things are evolving in real time . In the current context, it means that the general belief that it would not be approved may change. At the same time, according to CoinDesk, the SEC requires exchanges to speed up the update of the 19 B-4 document on the spot Ethereum ETF.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials unexpectedly asked Nasdaq and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) on Monday to quickly update and revise their spot Ethereum ETF listing documents, which is usually a request before approval, suggesting that the agency may be ready to approve the two companies applications, three people familiar with the matter said. The SEC must decide by the end of this week whether to approve the VanEck and ARK Investments/21 Shares ETF listing applications submitted by CBOE. The exchanges need the SEC to approve their revised rules before they can list the products, while the issuers still need the SEC to approve the ETF registration statement before trading can begin. Unlike the documents submitted by the exchanges, the SEC has no definite decision time frame, which means that it may take several months for the spot Ethereum ETF to begin trading.

Commodity vs. Security Attributes

It is important to note that most of the issuers of this pledge stated in their application documents that there are no pledge-related terms, which is a necessary condition for the SEC to accept the Ethereum spot ETF.

“The proposal under consideration by the Commission in this order does not involve the Trust’s staking of Ethereum. Therefore, the relative advantages or disadvantages of staking are not within the scope of this order,” the SEC said in its final approval document. “Any future actions by the Trust, directly or indirectly, that would cause any portion of the Trust’s Ethereum to participate in Ethereum proof-of-stake validation or to be used to earn additional Ethereum or to generate income or other benefits would require the relevant exchanges to submit proposed rule changes pursuant to Rule 19b-4.”

Whether Ethereum falls under the definition of security has always been a hot topic in cryptocurrency legal discussions, especially after Ethereum switched from proof of work (PoW) to proof of stake (PoS), the issue became more complicated. In this model, users stake tokens to maintain the network and earn returns, which touches on the relevant provisions of the Securities Act. Recently, companies such as VanEck, Fidelity, and Grayscale deliberately removed the section on Ethereum staking in the revised S-1 A filings submitted to the SEC, indicating that the SEC may have found a clear line on whether Ethereum is considered a security: if the Ethereum in the ETF is not used for staking, it is not considered a security.

Previously, Van Buren Capital partner and financial lawyer Scott Johnsson said that relevant application documents showed that the Ethereum spot ETF will still be listed under the commodity-based trust share rules.

Jake Chervinsky, chief legal officer of Variant Fund, said that this means that if the US SEC approves the Ethereum spot ETF, it will have to admit that non-pledged ETH is not a security. This will be a major policy move by the SEC, which has previously refused to recognize any assets other than Bitcoin as non-securities.

At the same time, this move will immediately affect the SEC’s cases with major cryptocurrency exchanges. If ETH is not considered a security, many other tokens may also be identified as commodities using similar logic, allowing cryptocurrency exchanges to win these legal cases.

There were early signs: Will the regulatory environment improve?

Election-year pressure

As the political situation in the United States develops, cryptocurrency, as an important voting group, affects the upcoming election competition. Former US President Trump has stated that he will accept presidential campaign donations in the form of cryptocurrency, and bluntly stated that his opponent Biden does not understand cryptocurrency enough, suggesting that cryptocurrency will become a focus of election debate. At the same time, Caixin reported that the cryptocurrency group has become a political bargaining chip in the US election year, and Biden may change his attitude towards cryptocurrency in order to prevent Trump from winning this group.

Haseeb Qureshi, partner at Dragonfly, pointed out that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)s change of attitude towards the Ethereum ETF may reflect the Biden administrations soft stance on cryptocurrency policy in order to avoid losing votes in the election due to seemingly minor crypto regulatory issues. This policy softening indicates that other regulators may also show a change of attitude in the coming months, although this does not represent a complete policy reversal.

Two opportunities this week: FIT 21 and SAB 121

There are two other regulatory events this week, both of which are important signals of whether the current US government is friendly to the cryptocurrency industry:

The so-called FIT 21 Act, formally known as the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act, is a new legislation that aims to clarify the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. The main purpose of this bill is to provide a safe and efficient way for blockchain projects to launch in the United States, while clarifying the regulatory boundaries between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) . The bill also aims to clarify whether cryptocurrencies are regulated as securities or commodities, and to enhance protection for American consumers by implementing specific cryptocurrency trading rules.

Currently, the FIT 21 bill was formally passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. Afterwards, it will enter the Senates voting process and ultimately depend on the presidents signature to take effect.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden announced that he would not veto the bill if the FIT 21 cryptocurrency bill was passed.

SAB 121 is an accounting rule issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March 2022, requiring companies to record customer-held cryptocurrencies as liabilities on their balance sheets. The rule is considered too strict by the cryptocurrency industry, which believes that it hinders custodians or companies from holding crypto assets on behalf of customers, which is detrimental to the development of the industry. For this reason, there have been many attempts to overturn this regulation through lobbying activities.

In May 2022, a bill to overturn SAB 121 passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 228 to 182 and passed the Senate again by a vote of 60 to 38. The bill then goes to President Biden, who will make a decision by May 28. Biden has three options: veto the bill, sign it into law, or set it aside so that it automatically becomes law or is vetoed. Although Biden has said he may veto the bill, given recent events and the election year, Biden may change his tune and choose to sign the bill.

It should be noted that this approval only involves Form 19 b-4, however, the issuer also needs to submit Form S-1, a key document that covers detailed operational and financial information of the ETF. The SECs review of Form S-1 is usually more stringent and complex because it directly involves investor interests and market transparency. Therefore, even if Form 19 b-4 is approved, the approval process for Form S-1 may take more time (60-120 days), which means that the final listing of the Ethereum ETF may have to wait longer to be realized. At this stage, the SEC will carefully evaluate all legal, financial and operational details in the proposal to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met.

This article is sourced from the internet: A new compliance milestone in the crypto world: Ethereum spot ETF finally approved

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