Bitcoin ETFs finally approved after a chaotic, ‘embarrassing’ 24 hours for SEC

On Wednesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time greenlighted several exchange-traded funds investing directly in bitcoin.

But the 24 hours leading up to that approval were chaotic, to say the least.

The SEC approved the launch of 11 bitcoin

ETFs, according to a filing posted on the regulatory agency’s website. The ETFs are due to start trading on Thursday.

On Tuesday, however, the SEC’s official account on X, formerly known as Twitter, published what the agency described as an “unauthorized” post indicating that it had approved the spot bitcoin ETFs. In reality, the regulator had not approved any such ETFs as of Tuesday and its X account had been “compromised,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said on the social-media platform. The SEC subsequently deleted the unauthorized post.

The agency found “there was unauthorized access to and activity on” the its X account by “an unknown party,” an SEC spokesperson said on Tuesday, adding that the “unauthorized access has been terminated” and that the SEC would work with law enforcement to investigate the matter.

Bitcoin’s price briefly shot 2% higher after the unauthorized tweet went out on Tuesday before soon pulling back.

Then on Wednesday, shortly before the U.S. stock market closed for the day, the SEC posted an actual approval order of bitcoin ETFs on its website — but the link was soon broken, leading to an “error 404” page. The same filing was later reposted by the SEC. 

It is unclear why the first link was broken. A SEC spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking comment on the matter.

The events of the past 24 hours have proven “a bit embarrassing” for the SEC, especially as the agency has stressed that cryptocurrencies are exceptionally risky and vulnerable to market manipulation, according to Greg Magadini, director of derivatives at Amberdata. 

Despite those warnings, Magadini said he doesn’t expect investors to be deterred from investing in the bitcoin ETFs.

Bitcoin has actually seen lower volatility on Tuesday and Wednesday than options traders had priced in, Magadini said. The crypto was up about 0.4% over the past 24 hours to around $46,400 on Wednesday evening, according to CoinDesk data.

Investors have been pricing in $1 to $2 billion of initial flows into the bitcoin ETFs.

Read: Bitcoin in spotlight as SEC approves new ETFs, ether rallies. Here’s why.

Steven Lubka, head of private clients and family offices at Swan Bitcoin, echoed Magadini’s point, noting that the hiccups on the way to SEC approval are unlikely to impact investor interest in the funds.

“Ultimately, the SEC is not the one that launches the ETFs,” Lubka said in a call. “If anything, it shows how much attention is on these ETF products.”

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