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Winklevoss Twins Shift Crypto Focus to Retail Investors, not Resentment

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If anyone in the world has good reason to feel resentment toward Wall Street regulators for rejecting their bitcoin ETF application, it’s Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. Their bitcoin ETF product was rejected by the U.S. SEC not once, but twice, the most recent decision of which was responsible for igniting the crypto market meltdown that was exacerbated by the VanEck bitcoin ETF delay.

Instead of harboring feelings of resentment, however, the brothers only seem to be empowered by the development, as evidenced by their decision to focus on the one client group in which they can depend — retail investors, according to a Bloomberg report. If investors could adopt a similar big-picture perspective, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the current situation in which more than $20 billion has been shaved off the total value of the cryptocurrency market over 24 hours.

In fact, for Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, it’s not only business as usual but it’s more business than usual by the retail segment.

“Wall Street is taking cryptocurrencies seriously, however, the vast majority of Wall Street firms are still not participating in the cryptocurrency market, which remains primarily a retail-driven market. This will change over time, but it will take time,” Tyler Winklevoss told Bloomberg.

Winklevoss isn’t the only one to feel this way. Adam White, vice president and general manager at Coinbase, a rival exchange to Gemini, recently told CNBC: “What’s so unique about cryptocurrencies, and in many ways this asset class, [is that it] was driven by retail investors — not institutions,” characterizing the interest among institutional investors as “profound.”

OTC Market

Meanwhile, a report by Tabb Group earlier this summer revealed that trading volume in bitcoin’s over-the-counter (OTC) market exceeded that of exchanges as much as threefold, which would attach a value of $12 billion in OTC bitcoin trades every day. Here’s the tweet by crypto industry engineer Eric Wall –

A report on Yahoo Finance concluded that the dramatic selling in the cryptocurrency markets on the heels of the Winklevoss bitcoin ETF rejection could have been the result of bitcoin whales selling not on exchanges like Gemini, where the adjusted trading volume over the last 24 hours hovers at $69 million, but instead the OTC market. This inserts a bit more uncertainty into the drivers of cryptocurrency prices.

Nonetheless, it appears clear that the market is placing a great deal of emphasis on a bitcoin ETF, or lack thereof currently. Such a product could open up the asset allocation of large pension funds, for instance, to crypto.

And as for the Winklevoss twins, they already have a “first” in this market. They were behind the maiden Bitcoin Futures Contract (XBT) on the CBOE last December. And if the CBOE has its way, it will be part of the inaugural bitcoin ETF, as well.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 70 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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ETFs

As Race for Bitcoin ETF Heats Up, SEC Identifies Cryptocurrency as a Top Priority in 2019

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The crypto boom of 2017 caught federal regulators by surprise. The subsequent crash of 2018 forced them to closely examine the market, including the sale, trading and management of cryptoassets. Now, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is prepared to take a proactive approach to monitoring the nascent asset class at a time when more issuers are throwing their weight behind a crypto-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Crypto Becomes a Priority

In the newly released 2019 Examination Priorities, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) has identified cryptocurrencies as one of six regulatory focal points this year. More attention and resources will be directed at the digital asset market due to its its rapid growth and perceived risks to retail investors.

“Given the significant growth and risks presented in this market, OCIE will continue to monitor the offer and sale, trading, and management of digital assets, and where the products are securities, examine for regulatory compliance,” the report said.

The regulator added that it will conduct high-level inquiries on market participants “offering, selling, trading, and managing these products…” Market participants include broker-dealers, trading platforms and investment advisers.

The report was released less than six weeks before the SEC is set to make a decision on a highly regarded bitcoin ETF. Although the agency has rejected more than a dozen crypto ETF applications, a joint proposal put forward by VanEck and SolidX is believed to have the best shot of being approved.

That’s because the proposed product includes safeguards to protect retail investors against fraud and manipulation. It also proposes to hold a repository of physical bitcoin as opposed to futures contracts and other derivative-based products. More on this story can be found here: SEC Delays Decision on VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF Until Next Year.

A crypto startup by the name of Bitwise Asset Management has also applied for bitcoin ETF product with the SEC. Like the VanEck-SolidX product, the Bitwise application is attempting to address the myriad of regulatory concerns put forth by the SEC in its previous rulings on crypto-backed ETFs.

If Bitcoin ETF Doesn’t Happen by February, How Will it Affect the Market?

Japan Not Considering Bitcoin ETF: FSA

Reports that Japan was considering approving a bitcoin ETF were quickly shot down this weekend by a spokesperson from the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA). As Bitcoin.com and CCN report, the FSA representative said, “There is no such fact that we are considering approving ETFs which track crypto-assets at present. We are not currently considering approving them.”

Last week, Bloomberg and several other sources reported that Tokyo’s financial regulators were exploring the possibility of a crypto ETF tied to bitcoin futures. The speculation put the regulator in the same boat as the SEC, which has been reluctant to approve a bitcoin fund but has nevertheless invited public dialogue on the matter.

At present, Japan does not believe there is “constructive and social significant of trading cryptoassets derivatives,” the spokesperson said.

Japan was one of the first countries to approve and regulate cryptocurrency markets, but a series of high-profile attacks on domestic exchanges forced regulators to adopt more stringent measures. Exchanges have also come together to develop a self-regulatory group to prevent further attacks from undermining the market.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 742 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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SEC Delays Decision on VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF Until Next Year

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will delay its ruling on a highly-anticipated bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) until next year, confirming earlier speculation on the matter. While the delay is by no means a confirmation that regulators are warming to the idea of a bitcoin ETF, it does suggest they are taking the matter seriously.

Ruling Delayed

In a notice published on Thursday, the Washington-based regulator said its forthcoming decision on the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust will be pushed back until Feb. 27, 2019.

“The Commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change,” the SEC said.

A decision on the hotly debated ETF was expected by the end of December but the extent of public commentary on the matter has forced the agency to extend its time period until the new year. As of Thursday, the agency had received more than 1,600 comments on the proposed ETF. The delay is consistent with earlier reports by Hacked pointing to February 2019 as a likely timeline for resolution.

What make the VanEck-SolidX proposal so intriguing are the safeguards in place to protect investors against fraud and manipulation. The fund also proposes to hold a repository of physical bitcoin as opposed to futures contracts and other derivatives.

In a series of meetings with the SEC, members of VanEck, SolidX and CBOE have argued that the bitcoin market meets the agency’s definition of liquidity and transparency. Last week, the proponents urged the agency to apply the same definition of “significant markets” to bitcoin as it does to other markets that currently enjoy ETF status.

This isn’t the first time that a ruling on the VanEck-SolidX product has been delayed. The SEC has pushed back the deadline repeatedly since the summer while discarding more than a dozen other applications.

BTC/USD Update

Even with an ETF in play, appetite for bitcoin is the lowest it has been in more than a year. The leading digital currency fell below $3,300 Friday for the first time since September 2017. At the time of writing, the BTC/USD exchange rate was averaging $3,296 on virtual currency exchanges. That represents a daily drop of 9.8%.

Trading volumes have climbed well north of $6 billion, with futures dominating the order books. Bitcoin’s market capitalization has fallen to $57.4 billion but its share of the overall crypto universe has risen to 55.1%.

With the breach of $3,600 on Thursday, the next likely target for the bitcoin price is $3,000. Below that level, $2,800 is the next major downside target.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 742 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Bitcoin ETF Watch: VanEck, SolidX and CBOE Met With SEC on Monday

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Backers of a highly-touted bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application met with U.S. regulators last week to present a new case for why their proposed product should be approved. The contents of the meeting, which were published on the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) website Wednesday, gave new reasons why the regulator should approve a specific rule change that would pave the way for the first crypto-backed fund to be listed.

Bitcoin Market Ready for ETF, Proponents Say

According to the SEC’s memorandum, the Office of Market Supervision met with members of VanEck, SolidX and CBOE on Monday. Rather than focus on regulation, the ETF backers argued that the bitcoin market is mature enough to list an ETF. The proponents also listed several examples of similar products that have been launched for commodities like gold and crude oil.

“Similar to commodity futures, the spot and futures prices [of bitcoin] are tightly linked,” the proponents argued, adding that “this is evidence of a well-functioning capital market.”

The proponents also urged the SEC to remain consistent in its definition of “significant markets,” arguing that bitcoin futures “is a significant, regulated market” when compared to the “dry bulk shipping market” that has already received regulatory approval for ETFs. The SEC has stated repeatedly that the bitcoin market lacks the significance and scale to protect investors against manipulation. VanEck and SolidX have long maintained that the bitcoin market is less susceptible to manipulation.

The meeting followed a closed-door gathering in late October that VanEck claimed had resolved issues regulators had identified in their previous disapproval orders. As Hacked reported, dozens of bitcoin ETF applications have been rejected outright by the securities regulator over concerns of market manipulation and investor safety.

Bitcoin ETF Unlikely Anytime Soon

Despite repeated efforts to convince U.S. regulators of the merits of a bitcoin ETF, the road to approval remains undetermined. That view was echoed recently by SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, who said the market must undergo important changes before an ETF becomes likely.

“What investors expect is that trading in the commodity that underlies that ETF makes sense and is free from the risk of manipulation. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed before I would be comfortable,” Clayton said during last week’s annual Consensus Invest conference in New York, according to CNBC.

Clayton said venues like the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq have “surveillance” mechanisms that can prevent manipulation on the exchanges. However, “those kinds of safeguards do not exist currently in all the exchange venues where digital currencies trade.”

The SEC has yet to reach a final verdict on the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust. At last check, a decision was expected later this month, though the process could get dragged out until February, according to industry sources.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 742 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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