SEC delays decision on spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds. What that means for investors


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Even as the Securities and Exchange Commission delays a decision on several applications for the first spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund, many in the crypto industry are still feeling optimistic for a future blessing from the agency.

SEC filings dated Aug. 31 indicated the agency would give itself until to mid-October to make decisions on several applications. But another extension could be possible, experts say.

The update came two days after a federal appeals court sided with Grayscale in a lawsuit against the SEC for denying its application to convert the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to an ETF.

“It is clear that bitcoin is something that retail investors want access to,” former SEC chairman Jay Clayton said on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ Friday, noting that “an approval is inevitable.”

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The Grayscale ruling isn’t necessarily a green light for a spot bitcoin ETF, said Bryan Armour, director of passive strategies research at Morningstar. But pending applications from Blackrock, Fidelity and others, “have increased the probability overall.”

U.S. investors currently have access to bitcoin futures ETFs, which invest in bitcoin futures contracts, or agreements to buy or sell the asset later for an agreed-upon price. The long-awaited bitcoin spot ETF, however, would invest in the digital currency directly.

Spot bitcoin ETF would be a ‘watershed moment’

“I think the spot bitcoin ETF is a watershed moment for bitcoin,” said Douglas Boneparth, a New York-based certified financial planner and president of Bone Fide Wealth. He is a member of CNBC’s FA Council.

“It’s a very serious statement to see BlackRock submit that application,” he said, and many crypto advocates believe it’s the beeline for a bitcoin spot ETF product.

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Limit ‘high-risk assets’ in your portfolio

A bitcoin spot ETF would provide easier access to the asset, allowing investors to buy and sell the digital currency through a brokerage account. However, “easier accessibility to something doesn’t mean you should dive in headfirst,” Boneparth said.  

If bitcoin spot ETFs are approved, investors should treat them like any other asset, he said. You should always do your own research and your own due diligence before taking risks with your money.

Easier accessibility to something doesn’t mean you should dive in headfirst.
Douglas Boneparth
President of Bone Fide Wealth

When investors are weighing “high-risk assets” such as bitcoin, the financial services industry may suggest limiting a portfolio to 1% to 5% exposure, Boneparth said. He personally limits speculative assets — such as bitcoin, private equity, hedge funds and more — to 5% to 10% of investable assets, he said.

There’s upside potential with a small percentage

A small allocation can still have significant upside potential, said Ivory Johnson, a CFP and founder of Delancey Wealth Management in Washington, D.C. He also suggests limiting bitcoin exposure.

“If bitcoin has the potential to double and you have a 2% allocation, that’s huge,” said Johnson, a member of CNBC’s FA Council. And if the price plunges by 50%, you only lose 1% of your portfolio, he said.

Of course, your target investment allocations should always depend on your individual risk tolerance, timeline and your goals, Boneparth added.

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