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Grayscale CEO Urges Bitcoin Spot ETF Options

Grayscale's CEO, Michael Sonnhenshein, is rallying for the green light on public options for Bitcoin spot ETFs
By Josefina Dipaolo
February 7, 2024

In a bold move for the cryptocurrency and exchange-traded fund (ETF) communities, Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnhenshein is championing the approval of public options for Bitcoin spot ETFs. Following the successful conversion of his company's Bitcoin fund into one last month, Sonnhenshein emphasizes the critical need for advancing the development of a robust listed options market in the realm of Bitcoin ETFs.

Options, as financial derivatives, grant investors the liberty to buy or sell an underlying asset at a predetermined rate in the future. Offering flexibility without direct exposure to the asset itself, options have gained popularity among traders. With the approval of Bitcoin spot ETFs by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in January, exchanges have filed 19b-4 Forms, seeking approval for listed options on commodity-based ETFs, including Bitcoin spot ETFs. Currently, options are available solely for Bitcoin futures ETFs, launched shortly after the debut of the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) in October 2021.

Sonnhenshein underscores the need for parity between Bitcoin futures ETFs and spot ETFs, advocating for similar treatment in the approval process for listed options on these products. While futures ETFs benefit from automatic effectiveness, options for spot ETFs undergo a more protracted review, hindering market efficiency and innovation.

Grayscale's pivotal role in reshaping the regulatory landscape is evident, with Bitcoin spot ETFs gaining approval following a prolonged battle against the SEC's preference for futures-based ETFs. The agency's about-face came after a legal defeat to Grayscale, prompting a shift in its approach. Although SEC Chair Gary Gensler acknowledges the approval of both products, he maintains a cautious stance on Bitcoin, citing its speculative nature and association with illicit activities.

As Grayscale leads the charge for Bitcoin spot ETF options, the push for regulatory approval underscores a pivotal moment in cryptocurrency market evolution. Sonnhenshein's advocacy signals a broader industry consensus on the importance of fostering a robust options market to enhance price discovery and navigate the unique dynamics of the crypto landscape. With regulatory barriers gradually easing, the path toward innovation and mainstream adoption of digital assets appears increasingly promising.

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