The First Bitcoin Futures ETF | U.S. Overtakes China In Bitcoin Mining
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WILL THEY, WON’T THEY?
Bitcoin topped $60,000 for the first time in six months on Friday, as markets grew confident that the Securities and Exchange Commission would approve the launch of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on its futures contracts. A day after Forbes director of data and analytics, Javier Paz, anticipated the possible approval of a bitcoin futures ETF based on CME Group data, Bloomberg reported (citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter) that the SEC isn’t likely to block the products from debuting on the New York Stock Exchange next week, starting with ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF. While uncertainty remains, the report came several hours after the SEC tweeted the following through its Investor Education account: “Before investing in a fund that holds bitcoin futures contracts, make sure you carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits.” For in-depth takes and technical analysis, subscribe to our premium research service Forbes Crypto Asset and Blockchain Advisor here.
Though not a pure-play ETF tied directly to bitcoin, based instead on bitcoin futures that trade on regulated exchanges, like the CME, a fund launch would mark a major win for cryptocurrency advocates, who have been pushing for a bitcoin ETF since 2013, when Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, billionaire owners of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, filed the first application, and signal mainstream acceptance of the asset.
BYE BYE, CHINA
In other bitcoin news, the United States appears to have claimed leadership in bitcoin mining after the latest waves of Beijing’s clampdown on cryptocurrency-related activities sent miners searching for new locales. As of July, more than a third (35.4%) of bitcoin’s hashrate—a measure of the network’s computing power—is located in the U.S., according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. Cambridge’s data sample represents less than half of bitcoin’s total hashrate, but it shows that China’s bitcoin mining dominance is now a thing of the past: a zero percent hashrate was recorded in mainland China—a dramatic shift for the longtime market leader that accounted for around a third (34.3%) of the metric in May and around two-thirds (67%) in September 2020.
COINBASE PITCHES CRYPTO REGULATION BLUEPRINT
The SEC may approve the first bitcoin futures ETF, but much regulatory uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrencies remains. To that end, Coinbase, which has recently canceled the launch of its lending product under pressure from the Commission, unveiled a proposal for how the U.S. should regulate digital assets in a new policy paper, presented on Thursday.
Perhaps the most debate-sparking suggestion of Coinbase’s pitch is the establishment of a new single federal authority that would be responsible for regulating digital asset markets, in addition to a dedicated self-regulatory organization, in the tradition of other markets. Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the proposal’s release, Coinbase’s chief policy officer, Faryar Shirzad, who joined the company in May after a 15-year tenure at Goldman Sachs , said his new employer had met with about three dozen congressional offices and lawmakers to discuss aspects of the proposal. “We don’t pretend to have all the answers, and our expectation is that our high-level proposal won’t become law overnight, nor should it,” said Shirzad, “but what they can do is evolve the debate in ways that are helpful for everyone, including members of Congress who are increasingly focusing on this area.” The development comes just a day after Coinbase’s early investor, venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz, published a similar, competing proposal.
BLOCKCHAIN 50 CALL FOR 2022 NOMINATIONS
Over the first three years of the Forbes Blockchain 50, Forbes’ list of billion-dollar companies making meaningful use of the technology popularized by bitcoin, has become a bellwether of institutional adoption. The list shines light on how large corporations—often household names like Walmart and Novartis—are using blockchain tech to improve business processes and become more efficient and profitable. Now is your chance to help us find the best possible honorees for next year. Submit a nomination here and help us spread the word using #Blockchain50 on Twitter.
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