BlackRock files for spot Bitcoin ETF; Coinbase to serve as custodian for BTC holdings
The spot ETF, named iShares Bitcoin Trust, aims to reflect the performance of the price of Bitcoin.
BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset managers, has filed plans with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to create a spot Bitcoin ETF through its iShares subsidiary.
The news comes after reports earlier in the day that the investment giant, which has more than $9 trillion in assets under management, was close to filing for a spot Bitcoin ETF.
The spot ETF entity, named iShares Bitcoin Trust, was formed on June 8 and aims to reflect the performance of the price of the premier cryptocurrency, if approved.
According to the filing, the trust’s purpose is to “own bitcoin transferred to the trust in exchange for shares issued by the trust,” and the trust’s assets consist mainly of Bitcoin.
Coinbase as custodian
Coinbase Custody Trust Co. LLC will serve as the custodian for the trust’s bitcoin holdings, with Bank of New York Mellon as the custodian for the trust’s cash holdings.
The shares issued by the ETF are expected to be listed on Nasdaq, with a symbol yet to be determined.
According to the filing, the ETF intends to issue and redeem shares only in blocks of 40,000 or integral multiples thereof, with a block of 40,000 shares named a “Basket.”
These issuance and redemption transactions will take place in exchange for Bitcoin, with Baskets offered continuously at the net asset value per Share for 40,000 shares on the day that an order to create or redeem a Basket is accepted by the ETF.
The filing does not disclose the number of Bitcoin that have been deposited into the trust.
The proposed ETF is benchmarked against the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate – New York Variant from CF Benchmarks, a subsidiary of Kraken, and a crypto index administrator authorized by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, according to a statement shared with CryptoSlate.
According to the statement, CF Benchmarks takes price data from cryptocurrency exchanges that adhere to the “highest possible standards of market integrity and transparency.”
Sui Chung, CEO of CF Benchmarks, said:
“An estimated 20% of Americans have now owned bitcoin at some point. BlackRock’s proposed ETF potentially offers the other 80% an option that is altogether more familiar and accessible.”
The filing lists certain risk factors related to digital assets, including “extreme volatility,” which could “have a material adverse effect” on the value of the shares, and the shares could lose all or substantially all of their value.
BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust also notes in the filing that investment in the trust could be negatively affected by potential amendments to the Bitcoin network’s protocols and software and also notes the scaling challenges for the speed and volume of transactions on networks for digital assets.
In addition, the ETF notes in the filing that a temporary or permanent fork could adversely affect the value of the shares and also notes that shareholders may not receive the benefits of any forks or airdrops.
For hard forks, the trust will determine which network is appropriate for its purposes and notes that such a fork could change the source code to the Bitcoin network, including the 21 million Bitcoin supply cap.
Past spot ETFs have failed to pass SEC
The approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF has been an issue in the U.S., with the SEC having rejected all spot Bitcoin ETF applications to date. However, the regulatory body has given the green light to several Bitcoin futures ETFs.
The SEC’s hesitance to approve spot Bitcoin ETFs has been primarily due to concerns over market manipulation and the lack of oversight on many cryptocurrency exchanges.
Grayscale Investments, a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the SEC to challenge the denial of the conversion of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into a spot Bitcoin ETF.