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Franklin Templeton files for spot ethereum ETF

Representation of cryptocurrency Ethereum is seen in this illustration

(Reuters) - Franklin Templeton on Monday disclosed that it had officially filed for a spot ethereum exchange-traded fund, becoming the eighth player vying to introduce a similar product in the market.

In January, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved 11 spot bitcoin ETFs in a watershed moment for the crypto industry, which had been demanding regulatory approval for those products for more than a decade.

A spot crypto ETF tracks the market price of the underlying digital asset, giving investors exposure to the token without having to buy it.

With Franklin's registration, there are now eight ETF providers competing to introduce spot ether ETFs, all of whom rolled out spot bitcoin products in January.

While the two biggest new entrants in the spot bitcoin ETF race, BlackRock and Fidelity, now have assets of $4.18 billion and $3.49 billion respectively, Franklin Templeton hovers near the bottom of the league table.

According to data from BitMEX Research, assets in the Franklin Bitcoin ETF totaled only $77 million. Seven out of the nine newly launched spot bitcoin ETFs now boast assets north of $100 million.

The veteran asset management firm founded in 1947 is not throwing in the towel just yet and is spending to market the spot bitcoin ETF in Google ads.

Last month, U.S. SEC delayed its decision on an application by crypto asset manager Grayscale Investments to convert its ethereum trust product into a spot ETF. BlackRock's application at launching a similar product was also delayed by the market regulator. VanEck was the first to file for a spot ethereum ETF, which the SEC must either approve or deny by May 23.

Coinbase Custody, a unit of crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN.O), will hold the proposed ETF's ether in custody. The company is also the proposed custodian of BlackRock's ethereum ETF.

(Reporting by Pritam Biswas in Bengaluru and Suzanne McGee; Editing by Alan Barona)