UPDATE (March 29, 19:45 UTC): The SEC has also delayed the VanEck/SolidX bitcoin ETF proposal.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delayed making a decision on two bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposals earlier this year.
The first ETF proposal, filed by Bitwise Asset Management with NYSE Arca, was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 15, kicking off the first 45-day clock for an initial decision on the filing. Overall, the SEC has 240 days to approve or reject any ETF proposal. Today’s decision means the SEC now has another 45 to consider the proposal.
As a result, the SEC said Friday it will “either approve or disapprove, or institute proceedings to determine whether to disapprove, the proposed rule change” by May 16, 2019.
According to today’s letter, the SEC has so far received 21 comments on the proposed rule change.
The SEC is also reviewing another bitcoin ETF proposal filed by VanEck and SolidX, in partnership with Cboe BZX Exchange. The VanEck/SolidX proposal was initially filed nearly a year ago, but was withdrawn in January during the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history. VanEck CEO Jan van Eck explained that the shutdown had – at least temporarily – paused conversations between the SEC and the companies which submitted the proposal.
Cboe resubmitted the proposal in late January, and was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 20. On Friday, the SEC extended this decision as well, designating May 21 as the date on which it would either make a firm decision or launch proceedings to do so.
While the SEC has not yet approved any bitcoin ETFs, prominent voices in the community believe it may happen this year.
In an interview with Roll Call published in early February, SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson said he believes an ETF proposal will “satisfy the standards” the regulator has set, “eventually.”
Attorney Jake Chervinsky of the Kobre Kim law firm went even further, previously telling CoinDesk that in his opinion, “it’s entirely possible that another  months of development in the cryptocurrency ecosystem could be enough to finally warrant approval of a bitcoin ETF.”