SEC Delays Fidelity ETH ETF
The SEC has delayed the ruling on Fidelity's Ethereum ETF until March.

The financial services giant is seeking to launch an ETF that would allow mainstream investors to gain exposure to the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization in their brokerage accounts and IRAs.

The Securities and Exchange Commission now has until March 5, 2024 to render its verdict on whether to greenlight Fidelity's Ethereum ETF entry to the market. This marks the commission's second deadline delay; it originally aimed to approve or deny the proposal by December 15th, 2022.

Why the Renewed Delay of an Ethereum ETF Decision?

While frustrating to investors eagerly awaiting the first US pure-play Ethereum ETF, analysts widely expected the SEC to postpone its ruling. The entity cited needing more time to align perspectives and gain a better grasp of dynamics like:

  • Volatility management - As a nascent asset, Ether prices fluctuate more sharply than securities regulators may be comfortable with
  • Manipulation risks - Decentralized exchanges may require closer scrutiny to limit fraud potential
  • Liquidity depths - The SEC seeks assurance the market could handle ETF order imbalances
  • Validation of reserves - How funds would audit backing Ethereum holdings
  • Proof-of-stake considerations - The consensus process to validate transactions on Ethereum's blockchain

Grayscale Investments, another heavyweight in the asset management arena awaiting the SEC's ruling on its own Ethereum ETF, believes May 2024 stands out as the most probable decision timeline for the pioneering product.

Why the Renewed Industry Optimism Despite Delays?

In October 2021, the SEC finally allowed the debut of the maiden Bitcoin ETF - the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF. This suggested a softening stance toward crypto-based exchange-traded funds. The FactSet Digital Asset Fund Flows report also tracked over $619 million entering crypto funds in 2022's third quarter - the highest amount since 2021's second quarter.

Additional positive indicators include:

  • Mainstream business embrace - BlackRock, Tesla, Block Inc and others holding Ethereum on balance sheets
  • Retail adoption - Over 159 million Ethereum wallets now exist globally
  • Institutional investment - Over 58% of wealth managers recommend crypto to clients

These trends underpin growing confidence in Ethereum's longevity and an eventual SEC approval.

The Wider Ethereum ETF Landscape Beyond Fidelity

The pending SEC decision on Fidelity's filing represents just one facet of the broader push toward launching an Ethereum ETF. Heavyweights like BlackRock Inc and Grayscale also eagerly await the regulatory body's ruling along with smaller yet influential players:

 Competitor  ETF Name Verdict Deadline
 Grayscale Inv.  Grayscale Ethereum Trust ETF  Jan 25th, 2024 
 BlackRock Inc  iShares Crypto Ethereum ETF   TBA
 VanEck  VanEck Crypto Ethereum Strategy ETF   TBA 
 WisdomTree  WisdomTree Crypto Market Fund   TBA 
 Invesco  Invesco Crypto Revolution Strategy ETF   TBA 

Grayscale's GBTC Bitcoin Trust enjoyed massive early inflows as investors flocked to gain indirect exposure to Bitcoin prices through the stock market prior to a pure cryptocurrency product being approved.

If Grayscale wins approval by late January 2024, it could steal a march and replicates this first-mover advantage. However, analysts caution against undue optimism for an imminent green light from the SEC.

As mentioned earlier, May 2024 seems the earliest realistic date for approval unless BlackRock's towering industry reputation helps accelerate the process. Comments from CEO Larry Fink signalling support for Ethereum's store-of-value potential have stoked these hopes further.

Global Regulatory Contrast

While the SEC proceeds cautiously amid concerns around market protections, other jurisdictions lean toward more rapid crypto adoption:

  • Canada - Evolve Ethereum ETF approved February 2022
  • Australia - ETF Securities' Ethereum and Bitcoin ETF went live April 2022
  • Brazil - Local regulators greenlit Latin America's maiden Ethereum ETF this July
  • Germany - Just Diversified's Ethereum ETN began trading in June 2022

The SEC will feel mounting pressure to follow suit as foreign nations seize the initiative in offering investors access to this promising new asset class via regulated fund structures.

Weighing the Market Impact of another Ethereum ETF Delay

From both a prices and sentiment perspective, the SEC's indecisiveness has near-term repercussions.


Immediately after the commission confirmed the ruling delay to March 2024, the price of Ether slipped around 5%. This mirrored the decline in Bitcoin prices after its ETF approval took months longer than advocates anticipated.

Beyond momentary sentiment blows, analysts debate the longer-term price implications. Some believe an Ethereum ETF approval could unlock significant institutional capital flows and propel Ether to fresh highs above its roughly $1,600 current price tag.

Others argue much of this impact already occurred as companies like Tesla allocated billions to Ethereum. An ETF may represent a marginal inflow surge rather than a watershed moment.

Market Sentiment

The repeated delays risk perpetuating uncertainty - especially for less crypto-savvy investors hoping easier exposure through ETFs helps legitimize the asset class.

On the other hand, the rising volume of mainstream financial players seeking approval keeps optimism intact despite the elongated timelines. This buffer prevents major sentiment deterioration.

The chart below summarizes Ether's 2023 price journey so far:

 Date Price 7-day Change
 Jan 1st  $1,234  -
  Jan 15th  $1,524  +19%
  Jan 18th  $1,673  -5%



The SEC may rightfully warrant caution as it navigates uncharted territory around fund custodianship and other protections investors expect from ETFs holding traditional equities.

However, the first-mover advantage in an exploding market helps explain why heavyweights like Fidelity, BlackRock and Grayscale eagerly await approval to unleash an Ethereum ETF.

The repeats delays across multiple top asset managers hint the SEC needs more assurances before letting these innovative funds hit the market. With Canada, Australia and Brazil greenlighting Ethereum ETF products, domestic regulatory approval seems an inevitability rather than possibility at this stage.

Investor patience and continued Ethereum development and adoption should ultimately unlock the SEC's approval. The only question is whether this milestone arrives by late January 2024 or if the window extends towards May 2024 or beyond. Either way, the Ethereum ETF looks set to materialize at some point in 2024 barring an unforeseen bombshell.