The Moment Of Truth Is Near For The Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF

The most famous ETF that’s not actually an ETF yet is about to learn its fate very soon.

The paperwork for the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF (COIN) was originally filed nearly 3 ½ years ago and the SEC still has yet to officially rule on whether or not it will be approved. That’s about to change though. Following several years of SEC filings and three separate delay requests, the governing body is now out of extensions which puts the final ruling date at March 11, 2017. The ETF would be approved by default if the SEC fails to issue a ruling by that date.

The looming deadline brings a number of issues to light in determining whether the market and investors are ready for a bitcoin ETF.

Safety

In its early days, the greatest concern surrounding bitcoin was piracy. In 2014, Mt. Gox, the exchange that at one time handled the majority of bitcoin transactions, filed for bankruptcy and announced that around 850,000 bitcoins had gone missing. As recently as last summer, Bitfinex, another bitcoin exchange, had 120,000 bitcoins stolen.

While security has come a long way, the Bitfinex hack demonstrates that there are still vulnerabilities in the system. ETF shareholders would be exposed to similar risks.

Supply

Interest in bitcoin has grown dramatically over the past several years but the market is still relatively limited. On an average trading day, about $200-300 million in bitcoin changes hands.

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That’s important to remember because it’s reasonable to believe that a bitcoin ETF could attract that much in new investment once launched. On top of that, China just announced that it’s cracking down on the bitcoin market in order to get a better handle on money laundering and theft so that number should be expected to drop.

Such a disconnect between supply and demand could easily push bitcoin prices into bubble territory quickly. That kind of rapid price movement would almost certainly damage a good number of shareholders quickly.

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