08.02.2017
By Rob Daly

CBOE Preps Bitcoin Futures

The bitcoin dam is breaking as more trading venues and exchanges announce planned launches of derivative contracts based on the most popular digital currency.

Pending regulatory review by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, The CBOE expects to roll out cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts that will trade on the exchange operator’s CBOE Future Exchange starting in late 2017 or early 2018, according to exchange officials.

The announcement comes ten days after LedgerX announced that it had received CFTC approval to clear cash-settled European-style option contracts.

To prepare for trading in the new contract, the CBOE has licensed digital asset exchange and custodian Gemini Trust Company’s Bitcoin market data for derivatives and indices for exclusive use.

The news should pique the interest of institutional investors, according to Gabriel Wang, an analyst at industry research firm Aite Group.

“Bitcoin is not a fiat currency, equities, nor bonds,” he said. “It’s a new type of asset that has a tremendous amount of volatility. Being able to offer a futures contract on bitcoin is a good opportunity for retail and, more importantly, institutional investor community to hedge their risk and an alternative way to trade the asset.”

Wang expects that even more investment products based on bitcoin and other digital currencies will become available down the road, but not in the near term.

“Not for the next 12 to 18 months,” he said. “Although many people are trading cryptocurrencies like ethereum, litecoin, and dash, their trading volumes and market capitalizations are not even close to those of bitcoin.”

According to the website Coinmarketcap, ethereum’s, litecoin’s and ripple’s market capitalization at the time of posting were $20.9 billion, $2.2 billion, and $6.7 billion respectively while bitcoin market capitalization is $44.7 billion.

However, bitcoin has experienced its own changes as a portion of the bitcoin community forked bitcoin’s code to launch a new version of the digital currency, dubbed bitcoin cash (BCC), on August 1, according to Wang.

He estimates that BCC will put downward pressure on the original flavor of bitcoin in the short term as the demand for BCC grows.

In the long run, Wang sees the presence of bitcoin and bitcoin cash as a positive situation for the derivatives market.

“When you have two competing cryptocurrencies, it acts as a facilitator for market liquidity,” he explained. “When there is competition, there tends to be liquidity.”

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