(Bloomberg) — Fidelity Investments is the latest financial services heavyweight to throw its name into the race to offer the first US exchange-traded fund investing directly in Bitcoin.
The Boston-based asset manager, which has about $11 trillion in assets under administration and has tens of millions of customers, re-filed for the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust, according to a document submitted Thursday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Similar to previous US spot Bitcoin ETF filings in the past few weeks, the updated application says that Fidelity expects to enter into a surveillance-sharing agreement with a US cryptocurrency exchange.
It’s the latest high-profile traditional-finance firm to join the race after BlackRock Inc. made a splash with its June 15 application for a spot ETF, which opened the floodgates for others to try their hand at it, as well. For crypto fans, it’s been a significant string of developments given BlackRock’s reputation on Wall Street, and the view by some market-watchers that the asset manager wouldn’t be making an attempt were it not confident it could get regulatory approval.
There have been about 30 tries for a spot-Bitcoin product, according to a tally from Bloomberg Intelligence. But applications have faced opposition by regulators, who have in the past cited market concerns and a lack of investor protections, among other things. Fidelity originally filed for the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust in 2021, which was denied by the SEC in January 2022, according to a Fidelity spokesperson.
Even so, BlackRock’s move spurred a number of similar filings from other issuers, including by Invesco Ltd., WisdomTree, Valkyrie and Bitwise. Meanwhile, Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment Management has said that it believes it could be first in line to get any potential regulatory approval. ARK had in April, in conjunction with crypto-issuer 21Shares, re-filed its application for one.
Fans of digital assets are excited about the prospect of crypto potentially becoming more easily accessible to everyday investors, and the wave of filings has been a boon for token prices. Bitcoin jumped back above $30,000 in June and is trading at its highest levels in about a year. The token on Thursday traded around $30,500. That’s still less than half the record of almost $69,000 reached in November 2021.
To be sure, this isn’t the first hype-cycle over a potential launch. Crypto fans, who have been yearning for a spot-Bitcoin ETF for years, have been through periods of excitement before, only for regulators to ultimately rebuff all attempts.
While BlackRock’s filing was credited by observers for helping to push the price of Bitcoin to a one-year high last week, the market reaction to the Fidelity refiling was fairly muted. Bitcoin was up about 1.5% to $30,500 as of 2:25 p.m. in New York, though off the highest level of the day.
–With assistance from Tom Maloney.