The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has allowed comments and feedback on a proposed rule change that would convert Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust to a spot-based exchange-traded fund (ETF).
A notice of filing a proposed rule change to list and trade shares of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust as a spot-based ETF has generated a long list of comments with a large majority in approval.
Bloomberg’s senior ETF analyst Eric Balchunas had a look through some of the more recent comments on Feb. 15 observing that 95% are in favor of the proposed conversion.
Just glancing through the many comments from ppl to the SEC re converting $GBTC to an ETF and 95% are in favor of it and most using real names and pointing to the stupefying fact that futures ETF ok but spot not. eg: pic.twitter.com/j15iNYnh8R
— Eric Balchunas (@EricBalchunas) February 14, 2023
Several respondents to the SEC proposal argued that the regulator had already approved futures-based exchange-traded products so a spot-based product should logically come next. The U.S. risks falling behind other countries such as Canada which has already approved such investment products, others added.
A spot-based fund would be physically backed by the asset itself as opposed to backing by futures contracts from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) which is how existing Bitcoin ETFs operate.
Another comment pointed out that the current fund creates arbitrage opportunities that can take advantage of retail traders.
“The current structure of the closed end fund has led to price of the fund trading at a premium and discount to net asset value which has created arbitrage opportunities for more sophisticated traders to take advantage of unsuspecting retail investors.”
Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust has been trading at a massive discount in recent months as investors speculate and hedge on the ETF being approved by the SEC. At the time of writing, the fund was trading at a discount of 24.75% according to Ycharts. This means that with BTC currently priced at around $43,600, the discounted fund price would be equivalent to around $32,500.
One investor said that he invested his life savings into the fund and is tired of the SEC trying to protect people, adding that the regulator is just out to “help the rich.” The financial regulator has repeatedly cited a lack of investor protection as a reason for delaying or rejecting crypto-based investment products.
Related: First US Bitcoin ETF a ‘dud’ in 2023 as GBTC discount stays near record lows
Grayscale originally hinted at converting the world’s largest BTC fund into a spot ETF in October. On Feb. 4, the SEC delayed the decision on the conversion of the $37 billion GBTC fund citing the same familiar concerns regarding manipulation, liquidity, and transparency.