BTC Surges After Grayscale Wins SEC Appeal

Check out the biggest breaking crypto market updates for today:

Bitcoin Surges After Grayscale Wins Appeal Against SEC

The price of Bitcoin rose significantly Wednesday after the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit sided with Grayscale over the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)_ in the crypto firm’s quest to launch a Bitcoin spot exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Specifically, Judge Neomi Rao ordered Grayscale’s petition for review to be granted and the SEC’s order to deny the GBTC listing application be vacated. Judge Rao described the denial of Grayscale’s proposal as “arbitrary and capricious” due to the SEC’s failure to explain its different treatment of similar products. However, the order does not guarantee the eventual listing of a Grayscale spot Bitcoin ETF. 

Bitcoin was up more than 5% in an hour, rising from just over $26,000 to a current price of $27,425, per data from CoinGecko. Other leading cryptos have seen similar rises. 

BTC has largely been sitting still this summer with uncharacteristically low volatility – except when news related to a spot EFT dropped. 

And the news that the SEC’s denial of Grayscale’s spot Bitcoin ETF application be reviewed is positive for investors: it means that a spot Bitcoin ETF could finally be coming to the U.S. 

Grayscale sued the SEC last year after the regulator rejected its application to convert its Bitcoin Trust into a spot Bitcoin ETF. 

A Bitcoin ETF doesn’t yet exist in the United States because the SEC has been reluctant to approve one – citing market manipulation as a factor. The top regulator currently has a long list of high-profile applications to review and investors appear to be keen on such a product. 

This is because it would give traditional investors exposure to the asset in a safer way: 

ETFs are investment vehicles that allow people to buy shares that track the price of an underlying asset,and a bitcoin ETF would allow investors to invest in Bitcoin without having to worry about storing and protecting their cryptocurrency holdings. 

In June, Bitcoin touched yearly highs of $31,000 per coin after Wall Street heavyweight BlackRock submitted its application to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a Bitcoin ETF. 

Investors interpreted the application as positive news for the crypto because it is evidence that Wall Street is hungry fro crypto exposure. 

Bitcoin has since dipped on regulatory news and amcroeconomic factors. Investors also seemed to briefly lose enthusiasm as it seemed unlikely that the SEC would be rushing to approve a spot ETF. 

Today’s news appears to have renewed optimism that a Bitcoin spot ETF will eventually be approved in the U.S. The SEC and Grayscale have 34 days to appeal today’s court decision. 

Bitcoin is still well below its November 2021 all-time high of $69,044 per coin.

Crypto Bank Seba Obtains Approval-In-Principle In Hong Kong for Crypto-Related Services

The Hong Kong subsidiary of Switzerland-based crypto-friendly SEBA Bank has reportedly received an approval-in-principle from Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission as the crypto-native bank looks to expand its international presence. 

The approval is the first step in acquiring a full license that would allow it to deal in securities, including crypto-related products such as over-the-counter derivatives and structured products. 

CEO Franz Bergmueller stated, 

“Complementing Seba Group’s established licenses in Switzerland (FINMA) and AbuDhabi (FSRA), the Hong Kong AIP significantly extends our global regulatory footprint. Seba Group aligns itself with the Hong Kong government and its financial regulators in facilitating an environment that supports the responsible growth of the digital assets industry.” 

The crypto bank will also be able to advise on securities and virtual assets and offer asset management for discretionary accounts in both traditional securities and virtual assets. 

Amy Yu, SEBA’s chief executive officer for APAC, told The Block that the company sees enormous potential in Hong Kong and Singapore with strong demand from crypto firms for fully-fledged banking services. 

“We see no issues in obtaining [a full official approval] by the end of this year,” said Yu, who joined SEBA in February 2023. 

“By the time I started, it was very clear that Hong Kong regulators were super gung-ho. They want to make a big push, facilitate as much as they could, and welcome these businesses back into the jurisdiction,” she added. 

In November last year, SEBA Bank expanded into Hong Kong with a new office just a month after Hong Kong authorities released a series of policy statements on cryptocurrencies, suggesting it would reopen to firms focused on digital assets. 

In December, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council passed an amendment introducing a full licensing regime for crypto platforms to offer retail trading services. 

SEBA’s Hong Kong subsidiary currently works primarily with its Zug0based parent company to offer services. “We will work very closely with our Zug parent because [on the] initial stages right at license grant, the Hong Kong subsidiary is going to operate more like an introducing broker to start,” Yu said. 

“We do have a lot of clients in Asia that are very interested in the banking piece of our offering,” Yu continued, adding that the company’s plan is to work more and more autonomy into the Asia businesses as much as possible. “This, I see, is going to b e really important for localization and providing a better product to the Hong Kong market.” 

Hong Kong and Singapore markets are top priorities for SEBA in Asia, according to Yu. 

“After Hong Kong, we’ll continue exploring licensing processes in other jurisdictions such as Singapore, which has always been the plan to look at Hong Kong and Singapore first,” Yu said. 

Tether Leaning on Bahamas-Based Britannia As US Banks Cut Crypto Ties

According to a Bloomberg report, stablecoin issuer Tether has added Britannia Bank & Trust, a private bank based in the Bahamas to process dollar transfers on its platform. 

Tether has reportedly instructed clients to send money to Britannia’s bank account over the last few months. 

Noting that Tether hasn’t publicly disclosed the full extent of its banking relationships, Patrick Tan, the general counsel for ChainArgos stated, 

“The secrecy surrounding Tether’s banking relationships continues to be a major impediment for developing the cryptocurrency industry, deterring regulatory approvals on other matters, and discouraging traditional asset managers with little tolerance for regulatory risk fro more active participation in the space.” 

The privately-held Tether has struggled to obtain and maintain access to the traditional financial system. In 2017, Wells Fargo & Co. ended its role as a correspondent bank through which customers in the US could send money to Tether and Bitfinex’s banks in Taiwan. 

Still, prior to the closure of New York-based Signature Bank in march, some clients of Tether were able to pay for the stablecoins by sending dollars to one of Tether’s banking partners Capital Union Bank via Signature Bank, Bloomberg previously reported. 

Paolo Ardoino, the chief technology officer of Tether, told Bloomberg in March that its banking partners include Bahamian lenders Deltec Bank & Trust Ltd. and Capital Union Bank, while Cantor Fitzgerald is a custodian for Tether’s Treasury bill holdings. 

In 2021, Tether reached a settlement with the New York’s Attorney General over allegations that it lied about its reserves and hid losses. 

Amid US scrutiny on the industry, it’s been challenging for many crypto firms to secure banking partners in the US. Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve said it’s stepping up scrutiny of banks’ involvement in digital assets, including stablecoin activity, after the meltdown of several high-profile crypto firms. 

Britannia Financial Group is a London-headquartered financial services firm that’s been raising its profile in recent years after buying several businesses, including a specialist commodities brokerage. Its chief executive officer, Mark Bruce, joined the group in January 2022 from Jump Trading, where he served as the head of fixed income, currencies and commodities for the business development team.

Luke Baldwin