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Bitcoin ETF Issuers Clear Major Hurdle on Path to SEC Approval

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Firms looking to launch spot-Bitcoin exchange-traded funds cleared a major hurdle this week on the path to gaining sign-off from US regulators in coming days.

Securities and Exchange Commission staff told several exchanges and issuers seeking to list the ETFs that they should submit a final version of a key document as soon as Friday, according to four people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

The staff had no additional feedback on the paperwork for several of the firms after the latest amendments, two of the people said.

The documents are what are known as 19b-4 filings, which are proposals for rule changes on stock exchanges that will allow the ETFs to be traded.

The SEC commissioners are expected to vote on the exchange-rule filings next week, according to another person familiar with the process.

Often, ETF approvals can be delegated to SEC staff without a vote by commissioners. It’s unclear if SEC staff had no additional feedback for all of the firms’ 19b-4 filings.

The issuers also need the SEC to sign-off on the final versions of their S-1 filings, which are the prospectus documents for the ETFs. SEC approval of the 19b-4 and S-1 forms may or may not happen concurrently, though typically the S-1s are approved after the 19b-4s.

A representative for the SEC declined to comment.

Should both approvals be obtained, the ETFs could start trading as soon as the next business day.

Last week, multiple issuers, including BlackRock Inc. and Fidelity, submitted amended S-1 filings to name their authorized participants — broker-dealers responsible for handling the creation and redemption of baskets of shares for ETFs.

While the step is typically taken for granted in traditional ETF creations, it drew attention in Bitcoin ETF applications because some industry watchers had expressed concerns that Bitcoin funds would have a harder time attracting broker-dealers.

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