ETF Edge

'You'll see a central bank cryptocurrency before you'll see a bitcoin ETF,' researcher says

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Bitcoin ETF rejected again. Here's where industry leaders stand on its prospects

Another bitcoin ETF bust.

The Securities and Exchange Commission last week issued yet another rejection to a prospective issuer, Wilshire Phoenix, for a bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund, the latest in a series of failed attempts by firms to push a bitcoin ETF past regulators.

Even so, market commentators struggle to believe this is the end of the road for the long-awaited fund.

"I doubt very heavily that it's going to be the last straw," Chris Hempstead, director of institutional business development at IndexIQ, told CNBC's "ETF Edge" on Monday. "I think everyone will continue to listen to the feedback and the notes from the SEC, what their comments are, and they will continue to address it."

"You'll see a central bank cryptocurrency before you'll see a bitcoin ETF."
Nick Colas
Co-founder, DataTrek Research

If market and investor demand eventually tips the scales in bitcoin's favor, the SEC will likely review the applications and could come to a different conclusion, Hempstead said.

"They'll probably take another look at it and have different kinds of considerations," he said. "I don't think it's the last straw, but I don't predict any significant changes from the SEC's decision in the near future."

DataTrek Research co-founder Nick Colas, who said in January that the odds of a bitcoin ETF getting approved this year were 10%, maintained his not-so-peachy outlook.

"You'll see a central bank cryptocurrency before you'll see a bitcoin ETF," Colas said.

That could come in the form of a digital coin tethered to the U.S. dollar, which could make for frictionless virtual transactions, but, in many ways, the market already has that in place, said Dan Wiener, the chairman of Adviser Investments and the senior editor of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors, a widely followed daily newsletter.

"People use Venmo right now. They can move their money around. It's not that big a deal. Do we really need bitcoin? I'm not a drug dealer. I'm not worried about moving money," Wiener said in the same "ETF Edge" interview. "More important is blockchain technology, how businesses are using blockchain. Bitcoin or any of these other coins are just a manifestation of a technology."

Bitcoin has climbed to above $9,000 this year after cooling off toward the end of 2019. Bitcoin bulls including cryptocurrency investor Michael Novogratz have said bitcoin could hit all-time highs in 2020.

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