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Ethereum ETF Approval Hopes Rise as Bitcoin Funds Launch Successfully—Is an SEC Nod Around the Corner?

Trent Alan
Last updated: | 2 min read
Ethereum price jumps as ETF hopes increase.
The launch of Bitcoin ETFs has fueled speculation that approval for an Ethereum ETF may not be far behind. Image by wuiffiuw, Adobe Stock.

The launch of the first Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) today has sparked optimism for a potential Ethereum ETF approval by the SEC.

The SEC finally gave the green light on Wednesday for 11 Bitcoin spot ETFs. These new Bitcoin funds brought in $2.5 billion in inflows on their first day and broke records, showing strong demand.

In the wake of this long-awaited Bitcoin ETF milestone, the spotlight has shifted to whether Ethereum could be next to receive SEC approval for an ETF tracking the second most valuable cryptocurrency.

ETH Spikes on Bitcoin ETF Launch

Ethereum’s price spiked

to its highest point since May 2022 following the Bitcoin ETF news, as investors anticipated an Ethereum ETF could also become a reality. Applications for spot ETH ETFs are pending before the SEC, with decisions expected beginning in May 2024. Major finance firms like BlackRock, Fıdelity, Invesco, Ark, and VanEck have applied for Ethereum ETF approvals.

Comments from SEC Chair Gary Gensler have cast uncertainty over the prospect, however. After approving the Bitcoin funds, Gensler emphasized they were for a “non-security commodity” and that the decision did not indicate a willingness to approve ETFs for other cryptocurrencies.

“Importantly, today’s Commission action is cabined to ETPs holding one non-security commodity, bitcoin. It should in no way signal the Commission’s willingness to approve listing standards for crypto asset securities,” Gensler said Wednesday after the SEC decision on Bitcoin ETFs.

This distinction matters because the SEC views most cryptocurrencies as securities, while Bitcoin is classified as a commodity. With Ethereum viewed by the SEC as a security, its path to ETF approval could face hurdles.

Experts Divided on Ethereum ETF Approval Odds

Some industry voices believe an Ethereum ETF could still receive approval this year, pointing to the SEC’s evolving stance toward cryptocurrency vehicles.

“I’d watch what the SEC does and not what it says, because it wasn’t long ago that the prospect of a spot Bitcoin ETF seemed like a distant dream,” Nexo co-founder Antoni Trenchev told CNBC. “Things move very fast in crypto and investors are front-running what they believe to be the next big spot ETF approval,”

Others are more doubtful of quick approval for Ethereum given Gensler’s recent warnings.

“As long as [Gensler]’s in power, it’s less likely, frankly, but I do think it’s eventually likely,” SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci said. “He’ll probably block ETH. But that doesn’t mean ETH isn’t coming. I think it just requires patience. It may be early on that trade, but ETH is here to stay as well.”

For now, the Bitcoin ETF approvals have shown the SEC is opening up to allowing mainstream cryptocurrency investment vehicles. But the agency appears to be moving cautiously, as evidenced by its hesitancy around Ethereum so far.

Whether mounting industry pressure and surging investor demand could accelerate the timeline for an Ethereum ETF approval is unclear. With the Bitcoin barrier now broken, Wall Street will be watching closely for signs of movement on an Ethereum fund.