(Bloomberg) — Franklin Templeton has joined fellow asset manager powerhouses Fidelity and BlackRock in the race to win approval to offer the first US exchange-traded fund that invests directly in Bitcoin.
The San Mateo, California-based firm, which oversees more than $1.4 trillion in assets, filed an application with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. If approved, Franklin plans to use Coinbase Global Inc. as custodian for the fund’s Bitcoin holdings and Bank of New York Mellon for cash.
Bitcoin has rallied in part this year on optimism that interest from large asset managers such as BlackRock and Franklin suggests that the SEC will be more receptive of approving the funds after years of rejections. The main US securities regulator deferred making a ruling on a slew of applications at the end of August.
Bitcoin advocates argue that ETFs would open the digital currency to a broader investment base and likely lead to higher prices. The SEC has cited concerns about fraud and market manipulation in the past when rejecting earlier filings.
The outlook for approval took a positive turn in August after Grayscale Investments won a key victory over the SEC when a federal appeals court overturned the rejection of firm’s application to convert its Bitcoin trust into an ETF. In the decision, the denial was called “arbitrary and capricious” because the commission failed to explain its difference treatment of similar products. ETFs that hold Bitcoin futures were approved in 2021.
Franklin Templeton launched a money-market fund that records share ownership on a blockchain in 2021. Total assets in the Franklin OnChain US Government Money Fund have increased to nearly $300 million, according to its website.
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