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SEC OKs spot BTC ETFs, Bitcoin retests $49k

This week witnessed a historic development, as U.S. regulators approved all 11 spot BTC ETF filings. Afterward, Bitcoin retested the $49,000 level for the first time in 24 months. Meanwhile, USDC issuer Circle filed to go public in the U.S.

Developments around the spot BTC ETF

  • This week, the crypto industry expected a decision from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the multiple filings for spot BTC ETF products in the U.S. Several asset managers looking to launch the product filed amendments to include disclosures on fees for the products.
  • As anticipation heightened, on Jan. 8, SEC chair Gary Gensler publicized a series of warnings on X, advising investors to be wary of the risks involved in exposure to cryptocurrency investments.
  • These warnings carried a mixed undertone, interpreted differently by the crypto community. While some commentators believed it signaled an imminent approval of the ETFs, others asserted it could be a plan to reject the filings, citing risks in the industry.

Misleading SEC announcement

  • On Jan. 9, the official X account of the U.S. SEC announced that the agency had approved the ETF products. Gensler’s account confirmed minutes later to debunk the disclosure, noting that the SEC’s account X suffered a hack.
  • Amid the false disclosure, Bitcoin’s price surged and then recorded a sharp drop. The crypto market followed suit. As a result, lawyers disclosed plans to investigate a potential case of market manipulation. 
  • Shortly after the development, some U.S. lawmakers wrote to the SEC, seeking a clear explanation of the events that led to the breach of its X account and the subsequent misleading announcement. 
  • Gensler assured that there were no further breaches to the account. 

SEC approves all spot BTC ETF products 

  • The withdrawal of the misleading announcement impacted optimism in an imminent approval. However, most pundits remained confident. One trigger of such confidence was the listing of several spot BTC ETF products on CBOE.
  • On Jan. 10, the SEC finally announced the approval of all 11 spot Bitcoin ETF filings. The products were expected to start trading on CBOE from Jan. 11 as the public market in the U.S. opens for trading.
  • Despite the approval of the products, Vanguard, the second-largest asset manager in the world, stressed its decision to block trading of spot Bitcoin ETFs on its platform, as the products do not align with its offerings. 
  • In a completely contrasting move, U.S.-based trading platform Robinhood confirmed that it would approve trading all 11 spot Bitcoin ETFs on its platform.
  • Three days after the SEC’s approval, BitMEX Research spotlighted massive inflows into the products. Data suggested that on day 2 of trading, the products welcomed $532 million in inflows. 

South Korea’s aggressive stance

  • Meanwhile, South Korea’s aggressive stance on crypto ETF products remained unchanged despite the developments in the U.S. Reports confirmed that the country’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) reiterated its ban on the product. 
  • As the approved spot BTC ETF products continued to welcome inflows, the South Korean FSC disclosed in a Jan. 12 statement that brokers in the country were barred from offering spot BTC ETFs from the global market. 

Is Ethereum ETF coming?

  • With spot Bitcoin ETFs now in the market, the crypto community expects filings for spot ETFs in other assets, with XRP and Ethereum (ETH) as the current focus.
  • In a CNBC interview following the SEC’s approval of the Bitcoin ETF products, SEC Chair Gensler maintained a cautious stance when asked about the possibility of an Ethereum ETF. He stressed Bitcoin’s position as a commodity, unlike other crypto assets. 
  • However, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, is more open-minded. Speaking in a CNBC interview, Fink admitted the potential value that could come from a spot Ethereum ETF. 

Bitcoin retests price mark

  • Bitcoin witnessed mixed sentiments this week amid the developments surrounding the ETF discussions. The asset began the week favorably, with El Salvador’s holdings appreciating to a profit of $12.6 million after 2 years of being underwater.
  • However, after the SEC retracted the misleading statement of a spot Bitcoin ETF approval on Jan. 9, BTC recorded a 3% dip. The asset eventually closed the day with a 1.79% decline. 
  • Following the approval of the products on Jan. 10, Bitcoin witnessed an impressive rally. The crypto token retested the $49,000 price mark on Jan. 11, clinching $48,975 for the first time in 24 months.
  • The recent approval of the spot Bitcoin ETFs and the massive demand that ensued contributed to the BTC upsurge. It also pushed Coinbase’s OTC BTC trade volume to $7.7 billion on Jan. 11, the second-highest figure in history. 
  • Amid the favorable BTC price movements, Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood projected bullish forecasts for the asset in the next six years. Wood predicted a base case of $600,000 per BTC and a bullish case of $1.5 million by 2030.

Circle files for IPO in the US

  • USDC issuer Circle’s plans to go public in the U.S. made headlines this week. Reports from Jan. 11 revealed that the Boston-based firm has confidentially filed for an initial public offering (IPO) with the U.S. SEC following a failed SPAC deal two years back.
  • Meanwhile, American exchange Coinbase landed a deal to promote USDC adoption in Africa. Coinbase collaborated with Yellow Card this week to grant millions of Africans access to USDC on its layer-2 network Base.

XRP’s mixed developments

  • Ripple and XRP witnessed mixed developments this week. In the wake of Solana’s push above XRP on the list of the largest crypto assets by market cap, the Hong Kong Virtual Asset Rating Agency (HKVAC) revealed this week that it would replace XRP with Solana on its index.
  • Reports revealed that Ripple had initiated a buyback of $285 million worth of its shares, placing the firm at an $11.3 billion valuation. Also, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse noted that the firm does not plan to IPO soon. 

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