Coinbase ‘confident’ a U.S. bitcoin ETF will be approved

Coinbase legal chief discusses terrorism financing with crypto and bitcoin ETFs

Coinbase is confident that a U.S. bitcoin exchange-traded fund will be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company’s chief legal officer, Paul Grewal, told CNBC.

“I’m quite hopeful that these [ETF] applications will be granted, if only because they should be granted under the law,” Grewal said in an interview with CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal.

The SEC was recently dealt a major court setback when a judge ruled that the regulator had no basis to deny crypto-focused asset manager Grayscale’s bid to turn its huge GBTC bitcoin fund into an ETF.

The SEC last week declined to appeal that ruling by a key deadline, likely paving the way for a bitcoin-related ETF to be approved in the coming months.

“I think that the firms that have stepped forward with robust proposals for these products and services are among some of the biggest blue chips in financial services,” Grewal added.

“So that, I think, suggests that we will see progress there in short order.”

He didn’t say when that’s likely to happen, and added the caveat that any decision would ultimately be up to the SEC.

But, Grewal said, it’s likely now that the SEC will approve a bitcoin ETF soon, highlighting the regulator’s failure in court to block Grayscale from converting its GBTC bitcoin fund into an ETF.

SAN ANSELMO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 06: In this photo illustration, the Coinbase logo is displayed on a screen on June 06, 2023 in San Anselmo, California. The Securities And Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase for allegedly violating securities laws by acting as an exchange, a broker and a clearing agency without registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

“I think that, after the U.S. Court of Appeals made clear that the SEC could not reject these applications on an arbitrary or capricious basis, we’re going to see the commission fulfill its responsibilities. I’m quite confident of that.”

The SEC declined to comment on Grewal’s comment when contacted by CNBC.

A bitcoin ETF would give investors a way to own bitcoin without having to make a direct purchase from an exchange.

That could be more appealing to retail investors looking to gain exposure to bitcoin without having to actually own the underlying asset.

Coinbase would likely benefit from any bitcoin ETF that is ultimately approved. The company, the largest crypto exchange in the United States, is a common stock held in portfolios designed to give investors exposure to crypto.

Not all is rosy in Grayscale’s bid to turn GBTC into an ETF, however.

The asset management firm’s parent company, Digital Currency Group, along with crypto exchange Gemini and DCG subsidiary Genesis, were accused in a lawsuit from New York’s attorney general of defrauding investors of more than $1 billion.

Still, Grewal sounded a positive note on the prospect of additional bitcoin ETFs being approved — sooner rather than…

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