BlackRock’s Strategic Journey: Pioneering Regulated Digital Asset Adoption with a Bitcoin Spot ETF Filing


On June 15th, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $10 trillion under management, made a significant move towards the regulated adoption of digital assets by filing a Bitcoin spot exchange-traded fund (ETF) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This groundbreaking development marks a pivotal moment in the integration of cryptocurrencies within traditional financial systems. Over the past 18 months, BlackRock has strategically positioned itself as a key player in the crypto space, with a specific focus on U.S. digital currencies (USDC) and Bitcoin. This detailed article explores BlackRock’s progressive journey and the potential implications of its actions on the broader digital asset landscape.


Step 1: Becoming a Massive Investor in Circle

BlackRock’s entry into the world of cryptocurrencies began with a substantial investment in Circle, a leading financial technology firm with a focus on crypto-related services. In a funding round that closed in the second quarter of 2022, Circle raised $400 million from notable investors, including BlackRock, Fidelity Management and Research, Marshall Wace, and Fin Capital. This strategic investment demonstrated BlackRock’s strong belief in the future of digital assets and positioned the company as a significant participant in the evolving crypto ecosystem.

This partnership extended beyond the investment, as BlackRock and Circle formed a strategic alliance. As part of this collaboration, BlackRock became the primary asset manager for USDC cash reserves, a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar. This alliance enabled BlackRock to explore capital market applications for USDC and leverage its potential in the financial services value chain.


Step 2: Launching the Circle Reserve Money Market Fund

Building on its involvement with Circle, BlackRock took a significant step forward by launching the Circle Reserve Money Market Fund (CR MMF). The CR MMF aimed to offer investors exposure to stablecoins while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. However, the eligibility rules established by the New York Federal Reserve (NY Fed) posed a challenge for the CR MMF’s operations.


Step 3: NY Fed Changes Eligibility Rules

Figure 1: Eligibility criteria 21/04/2023, more info here 


The NY Fed implemented changes to its eligibility rules, specifically targeting the CR MMF. This alteration prevented the CR MMF from accessing the Reverse Repurchase Agreement (RRP) facility. Recognizing the importance of this issue, the Bank Policy Institute, a lobbying group representing the banking industry, voiced its concerns to the NY Fed. Despite this setback, Circle managed to retain access to the RRP facility through tri-party dealer repos with banks, indicating indirect acceptance and recognition of Circle’s legitimacy.

Figure 2: Eligibility criteria 22/04/2023, more info here 


Step 4: Lobbying for the Stablecoin Bill

BlackRock and Circle intensified their efforts in Washington, D.C., engaging in extensive lobbying activities to promote the passage of the Stablecoin Bill. This legislation sought to establish clear regulatory frameworks for stablecoins and potentially render other existing stablecoins illegal. The successful passage of the bill would create a more regulated and secure environment for stablecoin operations, further solidifying BlackRock’s position in the digital asset market.

Figure 3:Stablecoin transparency act, more info here


In a move aimed at testing the custodial capabilities of Coinbase, BlackRock integrated the prominent cryptocurrency exchange into its Aladdin platform. By incorporating Coinbase’s services, BlackRock could evaluate the viability of its custody solution, particularly concerning Bitcoin. Leveraging Aladdin’s robust infrastructure, BlackRock enhanced its capacity to manage and monitor digital assets securely.

Figure 4 : Coinbase’s official disclosure, more information here 


Step 6: Filing for a Bitcoin Spot ETF

June 15th marked a significant milestone as BlackRock filed for a Bitcoin spot ETF, specifically the iShares Bitcoin Trust, with the SEC. The objective of this ETF is to provide investors with exposure to Bitcoin’s underlying market price without directly holding the cryptocurrency itself. In a testament to Coinbase’s reputation and reliability in the crypto industry, Coinbase Custody was selected as the custodian for the ETF.

This filing coincides with a period of intense regulatory scrutiny of the cryptocurrency industry by the SEC. However, the involvement of BlackRock, a highly respected and established asset management company, in filing for a Bitcoin ETF could be seen as a positive development towards regulatory approval. The approval and subsequent launch of a Bitcoin spot ETF could potentially open doors to a new era of cryptocurrency investment for traditional investors. It would bridge the gap between the traditional financial realm and the digital asset ecosystem, promoting further mainstream adoption and acceptance.



BlackRock’s strategic moves and its recent filing for a Bitcoin spot ETF signal a significant leap forward in the regulated adoption of digital assets. By investing in Circle, launching the Circle Reserve Money Market Fund, lobbying for regulatory clarity, integrating Coinbase into its infrastructure, and filing for a Bitcoin spot ETF, BlackRock has solidified its position as a major player in the digital asset market.

If approved, the Bitcoin spot ETF could serve as a catalyst for institutional investors to explore and participate in the cryptocurrency market more readily. As the industry continues to evolve, it is highly likely that more asset managers and financial institutions will follow suit, further bridging the gap between traditional finance and the digital asset ecosystem. The actions taken by BlackRock set a precedent for regulated adoption, signalling the continued maturation of the crypto space and its increasing integration into the global financial system.




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