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Fidelity Pushed for Bitcoin ETF Approval in Private SEC Meeting

SEC Chair Gary Gensler signaled this year that he could be open to a Bitcoin ETF as long as it complies with the strictest rules for mutual funds.

(Bloomberg) -- Fidelity Investments urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to approve its Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in a private meeting, listing the virtues of an idea that the regulator has been slow to embrace. 

Executives including Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets, met with SEC officials in a Sept. 8 video call, filings show. They laid out reasons why the regulator should approve the proposed product, including increased investor appetite for virtual currencies, the growth of Bitcoin holders and the existence of similar funds in other countries, according to a presentation from the meeting. 

Several firms are competing to launch Bitcoin or Bitcoin futures-based ETFs, which crypto enthusiasts view as a key step to broadening the virtual currency’s reach. So far the SEC has taken a cautious approach under chair Gary Gensler and his predecessor Jay Clayton. None of the proposals have received a green light.

But Gensler signaled this year that he could be open to a Bitcoin ETF as long as it complies with the strictest rules for mutual funds -- in contrast to most applications, including Fidelity’s, which are filed under 1930s laws that allow stock exchanges to list the products. Gensler also referenced an openness to ETFs based on Bitcoin futures. Fidelity’s presentation, in contrast, downplayed the importance of both of those traits.  

Read more: SEC’s Gensler Signals Path for Bitcoin ETF With Tough Rules 

“Bitcoin futures-based products are not a necessary interim step before a Bitcoin ETP,” Fidelity said in the presentation. “Firms should be able to meet investor demand for direct exposure to Bitcoin” through ETFs registered under those 1930s laws, “because the Bitcoin market has matured and can support them.”

In March, Fidelity filed its application for its proposed Bitcoin ETF, called the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust. Other firms seeking approval for similar products include WisdomTree Investments and Ark Investment Management. 

“An increasingly wide range of investors seeking access to Bitcoin has underscored the market need for a more diversified set of products offering exposure to digital assets to match demand,” Fidelity spokeswoman Nicole Abbott said in an emailed statement.

She declined to comment on the contents of the presentation. 

--With assistance from Ben Bain.

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