Spot Ether ETFs Approved by SEC Without Gary Gensler’s Vote

Spot Ether ETFs Approved by SEC Without Gary Gensler’s Vote

On May 23, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved spot Ether exchange-traded funds (ETFs), marking a significant milestone in the crypto industry. However, the approval process diverged from that of the spot Bitcoin ETFs approved earlier in January. Unlike the Bitcoin ETFs, which required a vote from the SEC’s five-member committee, including SEC Chair Gary Gensler, the spot Ether ETFs received approval directly from the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets.

The SEC approved the 19b-4 filings from several major financial firms, including BlackRock, Fidelity, Grayscale, Bitwise, VanEck, Ark, Invesco Galaxy, and Franklin Templeton, without additional comments beyond the official decision. The approval statement read, “For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.”

This procedural difference puzzled many in the crypto community. However, Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart clarified that this approach is standard practice. He explained that requiring the SEC to hold an official vote for every decision or document would be impractical. Seyffart added that it would have been interesting to observe the political dynamics if a vote had been required.

Despite Seyffart’s explanation, some remain skeptical. One user on X suggested that a commissioner could challenge the decision within the next 10 days, indicating that delegated authority might be used to avoid politically sensitive votes. Another user speculated that factors such as political pressure, upcoming elections, and the implementation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) rules might have influenced the SEC’s decision.

The crypto industry celebrated the SEC’s approval of the spot Ethereum ETFs, calling it a “historic move.” However, it is important to note that while the 19b-4 forms have been approved, the S-1 registration statements still need processing before trading can begin. This means the debut of spot Ether ETFs on exchanges could still be weeks or months away, as issuers await the SEC’s approval of the S-1 registrations.

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