The U.S. investment firm Van Eck, which has been seeking approval for their Bitcoin ETF product, announced a partnership with stock exchange Nasdaq Inc. to create a set of digital asset products that will be “transparent, regulated and surveilled.”
@Nasdaq and VanEck’s @MVISIndices announces #index #partnership and intention to bring to market transparent, regulated and surveilled #DigitalAssets products, such as #Bitcoin futures contracts. More info to come. Share & follow us. #crypto #futures #SMARTS #ConsensusInvest pic.twitter.com/Q2oCZx4pp1
— Gabor Gurbacs (@gaborgurbacs) November 27, 2018
The announcement was made on November 27 by Van Eck’s director of digital asset strategy Gabor Gurbacs on Twitter. The partnership between Nasdaq and Van Eck was revealed in New York City at the Consensus:Invest blockchain conference and echoed the report from Bloomberg on the previous day that said Nasdaq was planning on rolling out a Bitcoin futures product in the first quarter of 2019, according to “two people familiar with the matter.”
The tweet indicated that Van Eck’s MVIS digital asset pricing indices would be a part of the new digital asset products and that they would also use the SMARTS Market Surveillance system developed by Nasdaq to provide real-time and T1 solutions for market surveillance, supervision and compliance.
SMARTS is used to maintain a fair, safe and transparent market environment by surveilling markets in real-time and comparing historical data to detect patterns that might be indicative of illegal market activities or breaches of exchange rules. This will bring much needed transparency to the cryptocurrency markets and digital assets offered by the Van Eck/Nasdaq partnership.
While Bitcoin futures have been mentioned as one potential digital asset, it has yet to be announced if they will be physically settled with Bitcoin, or cash-backed as the current CME Bitcoin futures.
Other potential digital assets have not yet been mentioned, but it is known that Van Eck is currently awaiting final approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on its joint proposal for a physically-backed Bitcoin ETF together with blockchain software and financial services firm SolidX.
The proposal was first rejected by the SEC in March of 2017 and was later resubmitted by Van Eck. That submission was made in June 2018 and targeted listing on the BZX Equities Exchange of the CBOE. The SEC was supposed to rule on the application in August, but postponed the decision to September 30, 2018.
One week prior to that date the SEC postponed for a second time, citing the more than 1,400 public comments submitted as a partial reason for the second delay. Under existing regulations the SEC could wait until February 2019 to make a final decision.
Van Eck’s Gurbacs had this to say:
[The SEC] just needs time to understand the markets better … We have answered pretty much every question that was asked and especially the 18 questions … around liquidity, pricing, market manipulation, it’s all part of our application how we address that.
Cash-settled Bitcoin futures are already available from the CME and the digital asset platform Bakkt, which was created by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), is expected to launch physically-delivered bitcoin futures in January 2019. Currently no other operator has been approved to offer a bitcoin ETF.
Do you think the Van Eck partnership with Nasdaq improves its chance of approval for its bitcoin ETF? Leave your opinion in the comments below.