May 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday approved applications from Nasdaq, CBOE and NYSE to list exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tied to the price of ether, potentially paving the way for the products to begin trading later this year.

While the ETF issuers also have to get the greenlight before the products can launch, Thursday's approval is a major surprise win for those firms and the cryptocurrency industry, which until Monday had expected the SEC to reject the filings.

Nine issuers including VanEck, ARK Investments/21Shares and BlackRock hope to launch ETFs tied to the second-largest cryptocurrency after the SEC in January approved bitcoin ETFs in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency industry. (Reporting by Hannah Lang in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)