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VanEck tries a third time for a bitcoin ETF

  • Each share of the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust is set to cost a hefty $200,000, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.
  • In January, VanEck withdrew a filing for an ETF based on bitcoin futures, after shelving an application for a similar ETF in September.
  • The SEC did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment on Wednesday.
A lady passes in front of a Bitcoin exchange shop.
Artur Widak | NurPhoto | Getty Images
A lady passes in front of a Bitcoin exchange shop.

Money management firm VanEck is trying again for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

On this third attempt, the company is teaming up with blockchain company SolidX and basing the fund on actual bitcoins rather than futures.

Each share of the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust is set to cost a hefty $200,000, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. The high price reflects the fund's focus on institutional, rather than retail, investors, SolidX CEO Daniel H. Gallancy said in a phone interview with CNBC.

If all regulatory filings go through according to plan, the ETF should launch by sometime in the first quarter of 2019, Gallancy said. The fund will track a bitcoin index from VanEck's subsidiary MVIS that uses prices from over-the-counter trades rather than electronic cryptocurrency exchanges.

It's not clear whether the structure of the ETF or bitcoin's relative stability recently will help the fund gain approval. Several companies, including VanEck, have tried unsuccessfully to launch bitcoin ETFs in the United States.

VanEck first filed for an ETF based on bitcoin futures in August, but withdrew the application in September at the request of SEC staff since the futures didn't exist yet. The company and several other firms filed again when bitcoin futures launched on CME and Cboe in December. But they had to withdraw those applications in January at the request of SEC staff.

In a letter that month, the commission raised concerns such as extreme price volatility and the ability for customers to withdraw funds easily.

The SEC did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment on Wednesday. Bitcoin traded near $7,500 on Wednesday, holding within the trading range of the last few months.

SolidX has also struggled to launch a bitcoin ETF. In March 2017, the SEC rejected the company's application for an exchange-traded product based on physical bitcoins. Around the same time, the commission also rejected, then said it would review, the Winklevoss twins' proposal for a similar bitcoin fund.

VanEck will help market the new bitcoin ETF, SolidX will sponsor or create the underlying index and Bank of New York Mellon will be the custodian, the filing said. If approved, the ETF is slated to trade under the symbol XBTC on Cboe BZX Exchange.

"I believe that bitcoin has emerged as a legitimate investment option, as a type of 'digital gold' that may make sense for investors' portfolios," Jan van Eck, chief executive officer of VanEck, said in a statement.

"A properly constructed physically-backed bitcoin ETF will be designed to provide exposure to the price of bitcoin, and an insurance component will help protect shareholders against the operational risks of sourcing and holding bitcoin," he said.

WATCH: Jan van Eck, CEO of VanEck, talks about the ETF