CME, the world’s largest futures exchange, launched its own bitcoin futures contract Sunday under the ticker “BTC.”
The futures moved just slightly higher in early trading following the highly-anticipated launch, a stark contrast from the 19 percent surge in CBOE bitcoin futures during their first day of trading a week ago. The CME futures even went negative briefly in the first hour of trading.
CME bitcoin futures were higher by about 75 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19,575 as of 7 p.m. New York time. CBOE bitcoin futures were 8 percent higher.
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Bitcoin itself moved lower on the CoinDesk index, down about 1 percent at $19,069.57. CoinDesk tracks prices from digital currency exchanges Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Bitfinex.
Leading U.S. exchanges have raced to offer derivatives contracts for bitcoin, which has surged more than 1,600 percent this year on growing investor interest.
CME had made its announcement on Dec. 1 for bitcoin futures. But two days later Cboe Global Markets said it was launching its own futures contract on Dec. 10, a week before CME. Nasdaq and Cantor Fitzgerald are also planning their own bitcoin derivatives contracts.
Cboe’s bitcoin futures contract had a relatively smooth first week of trading, although volume was on the light side. The most popular contract, which expires in January, gained 17.1 percent in the first week of trading to settle Friday at $18,105.
About 20 firms participated, including Interactive Brokers and Wedbush Futures. TD Ameritrade announced late Friday afternoon it would allow certain clients to begin trading the Cboe bitcoin futures, but not the CME futures, on Monday.
Many see the launch of bitcoin futures as a step towards establishing the digital currency as a legitimate asset class. The derivatives allow institutional investors to buy into the cryptocurrency trend and could pave the way for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund.
In less than ten years, bitcoin has quickly evolved from being a fringe asset and the focus of tech nerds to a globally traded asset. More than 170 “cryptofunds” have launched to invest in cryptocurrencies and startups focused on the blockchain technology behind the digital currencies, according to financial research firm Autonomous Next.
Source : CNBC