BlackRock amends ETF filings; Do Kwon & more

Today’s weekly recap looks at the U.S. ETF race, as BlackRock and VanEck amend their filings. Also, Montenegro’s authorities are considering extraditing Terra’s founder, while the crypto scene sees sustained regulatory developments.

BlackRock, Bitwise, VanEck amend ETF filings

  • As leading asset managers continued to anticipate a decision on a spot Bitcoin ETF, they made changes to align with the U.S. SEC’s demands. Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart revealed on Dec. 4 that BlackRock had amended its filing.
  • Reports further suggested that crypto fund manager Bitwise also updated its application. Seyffart noted that these updates confirm that the SEC is actively discussing the potential launch of the product
  • Four days later, asset manager VanEck also submitted a modified Form S-1 filing to the U.S. SEC, marking its first amendment, as disclosed by Seyffart. Per the updated filing, the product is expected to carry the ticker HODL.

Pando joins ETF race, BlackRock welcomes seed investor

  • While others awaited a decision on their respective filings, Swiss-based asset management firm Pando Asset AG joined the race for a spot Bitcoin ETF in the U.S. On Dec. 4 Pando became the thirteenth asset manager to file for the product with the SEC.
  • Meanwhile, BlackRock recently welcomed a seed investor to its potential spot Bitcoin ETF vehicle. Notably, the unidentified investor pumped $100,000 as seed investment into the product, according to a disclosure from BlackRock.

Sustained anticipation

  • In addition to its Bitcoin ETF filing, asset manager Grayscale also witnessed a delay in the approval of its spot Ethereum ETF. The U.S. SEC disclosed this week they would postpone a decision on the ETH ETF filing until Jan. 25, 2024.
  • Amid the wait on all 13 spot BTC ETF applications, reports from Dec. 7 indicated that the discussions between the SEC and the concerned firms have observed significant progress, with a tilt toward important technical details.
  • Interestingly, ETF filings from this week moved from Bitcoin and Ethereum to MicroStrategy. YieldMax, an investment firm focused on ETFs, applied with the SEC to launch an ETF based on MicroStrategy shares, which have skyrocketed since the firm adopted the Bitcoin standard.
  • Ark Investment could be getting a decision on its spot BTC ETF application sooner than others, as the deadline for the SEC to give a reply inched closer, slated for Jan. 10, 2024.

Do Kwon appeals extradition decision 

  • Terra founder Do Kwon was not satisfied with a previous ruling approving his extradition from Montenegro to either South Korea or the U.S. Do Kwon’s lawyers are now appealing the decision.
  • Despite the appeal, speculations have already emerged on whether Do Kwon would be extradited to the U.S. or South Korea. The Wall Street Journal reported that the former fugitive could be heading to the U.S., citing people familiar with the matter.
  • The U.S. SEC made moves to obtain a legal classification of crypto assets in its case against the Terra founder. The agency wrote to the judge presiding over the case, seeking a ruling on whether the assets in question are securities.

Crypto faces aggression in the US

  • The regulatory uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrencies in the U.S. exposed some aggressive remarks concerning the asset class this week. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon expressed his animosity toward crypto, noting he would shut it all down if given the opportunity.
  • According to Dimon, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have no real use case besides criminal activities such as money laundering and drug trafficking.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren — who often spars with Dimon and other banking executives over consumer interests — claimed the crypto sector poses a new threat to the U.S. She said the asset class is being leveraged for terror financing and drug trafficking.
  • Amid the aggression, U.S. presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy made a case for Bitcoin during the Republican presidential debate. Ramaswamy emphasized Bitcoin’s utility and criticized SEC Chair Gary Gensler for his regulatory approach.

Kazakhstan bans Coinbase, UK warns against Poloniex

  • Global regulatory developments emerged this week. Kazakhstan placed a restriction on Coinbase for its citizens amid regulation violations and investigations for potential money laundering practices. 
  • Poloniex also faced a roadblock in the United Kingdom for its offerings in the country. The British Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) included the exchange in its warning list, noting that the exchange does not have permission to offer its services. 


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