The Bitcoin decision explained
Main page Finance, US, Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin
Hot topic
March 10, 2017

While market watchers around the world eagerly await the Securities and Exchange Commission's decision on whether to approve Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF many other casual observers are wondering how it all works and what it could mean.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin (Bitcoin) is a digital currency, there are no physical bank notes or coins.

The currency is stored in digital wallets and on thousands of computers worldwide and organised in blocks that process transactions between users.

The technology that underpins Bitcoin is called "blockchain" and acts as an account ledger on computers around the world.

Payments are made from user to user without the need for a bank to act as an intermediary and also allowing for payments without named accounts and verification.

What is the SEC decision?

The US securities regulator must decide whether to allow a Bitcoin ETF, which would be the first federally-approved Bitcoin investment vehicle.

Interestingly the proposed ETF is the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF, championed by the millionaire brothers who once battled Mark Zuckerberg for control of Facebook.

Why is it so important?

Many investment funds have rules that require assets to meet certain standards, such as SEC approval.

If the ETF gets the greenlight Bitcoin will be eligible for inclusion in investment fund portfolios with many tipping that huge amounts of cash could flow into Bitcoin.

Will the SEC approve the ETF?

The answer remains unclear but a growing number of experts are now suggesting that the SEC will give the ETF the thumbs up.

Bitcoin has been around for eight years and the currency has been increasingly used with major corporations such as Microsoft and retailer Target now accepting payments in Bitcoin.

However, the price of Bitcoin has fluctuated dramatically over that period and the SEC may be concerned that a sanctioned ETF could lead to a bubble.

Another signal that a positive decision may be on the cards is the price of Bitcoin itself, which has surged to $1300 a unit, higher than the gold price.

If the SEC fails to make a decision the ETF could be approved by default.

According to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, a proposed rule change "shall be deemed to have been approved by the Commission if the Commission does not approve or disapprove the proposed rule change... within the period described."

When will the SEC make a decision?

The regulator has until Saturday March 11 to make a call so it's likely to break the news some time on Friday.

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