Max Keiser Slams Bitcoin ETFs as “Bait and Switch”

The Bitcoin OG sounds the alarm on several converging coincidences, leading him to conclude foul play.

Max Kaiser carrying a large red ETF sign on a sandy beach.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • The SEC wants Bitcoin ETFs to be cash redemption only.
  • Max Keiser raises concerns about cash redemption BTC ETFs being fake Bitcoin.
  • A slew of other timely coincidences has Keiser claiming a “bait and switch” is brewing.

The pending approval of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the US Securities Exchange Commission has been enthusiastically awaited by the crypto industry, with many expecting these regulated vehicles to propel prices higher and confer greater mainstream credibility. However, Bitcoin OG Max Keiser claims a coordinated “bait and switch” is brewing behind the scenes.

Bitcoin “Bait and Switch”

Keiser’s suspicions over a “bait and switch” stem from observing the unusual “coordination and cooperation” between legacy money managers and regulators to push Bitcoin ETFs through. 

While that may not have triggered alarm bells, Keiser laid issue with the recent application amendments that agree to cash settlement terms. Specifically, Keiser stated that cash settlement means ETF investors have “no claim on actual BTC,” essentially making the ETF products “a fiat-money version of Bitcoin.” 


Tying the dots together, Keiser highlighted that the simultaneous bid to “ban self-custody” and the timely forfeiture of over 69,000 Bitcoin from the Silk Road prosecution to the US government further roused his suspicions of ETF foul play.

“If this is true, it’s exceptional due to the size of this highly coordinated bait-and-switch by Wall Street & Washington,” commented Keiser. 

The concerns voiced by Keiser echo larger ongoing debates within Bitcoin circles that several other prominent figures have previously raised.

Trojan Horse Take Over?

Recently, the heightened anticipation of Bitcoin ETF approvals, particularly as expectations of price appreciation take hold, has overshadowed earlier warnings from prominent community figures.


In November, BitMEX co-founder Arthur Hayes commented that Bitcoin ETFs “could herald a situation that we might not actually like in the end.” Hayes raised concerns that BTC ETF products hand massive controlling influence, which may not align with retail investors, to “agents of the state” such as BlackRock and Fidelity. 

“If we need certain types of upgrades to enhance the privacy, enhance the encryption, to make sure it maintains this rock solid cryptographically hard monetary asset, those interests are not aligned with the TradFi status institutions,” warned Hayes.

Similarly, podcaster Peter McCormack echoed Hayes’ comments by saying the centralization risk presented by BTC ETFs will be good for price but overall “bad for Bitcoin.”

On the Flipside

  • Senator Warren’s recent proposal to crack down on crypto-related illicit activity tendered the extension of KYC rules for wallet providers, miners, validators, and other network participants. However, no self-custody ban was mentioned.
  • The US government is estimated to hold more Bitcoin than MicroStrategy.
  • Bitcoin philosophy contends anti-establishment and anti-fiat ideals.

Why This Matters

The debate sparked by Keiser’s comments reflects the broader tension between Bitcoin’s cypherpunk roots and its increasing integration with traditional finance. Though some view regulation-friendly products as a necessary step in the maturation cycle, others contend overly compromising core principles risks undermining what makes Bitcoin unique in the first place.

Find out more on the latest details with Bitcoin ETF approvals here:
Anticipation Builds for Bitcoin ETF as Timeline Remains Murky

Read about the pushback against Jeremy Hunt’s over-optimistic claims about the UK’s crypto status here:
UK Chancellor’s “Global Crypto Hub” Claim Draws Skepticism

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Samuel Wan

Samuel Wan is a finance professional turned crypto journalist, known for his insightful reporting on market trends, regulatory changes, and technological developments within the digital asset industry. His ability to simplify complex concepts and report the facts has made him a trusted source in the crypto community. Beyond his writing, Samuel is an active mountain biker and gamer.