Derivatives exchange CBOE Global Markets started trading bitcoin futures late on Sunday, December 10, beating fellow Chicago-based CME to the punch at becoming the first regulated exchange to offer BTC futures contracts.
CBOE bitcoin futures jumped as much as 26% in their U.S. debut on Sunday, prompting two temporary trading halts designed to calm the market. Trading volumes exceeded dealers’ expectations. CBOE’s website suffered temporary delays and outages due to heavy traffic. However, the issues did not affect the trading systems, CBOE said.
The one-month CBOE bitcoin futures contract opened at 6 p.m. local time on Sunday at $15,460, roughly 9% premium over BTC’s spot price of $16,900 on the Bitstamp exchange. By late afternoon on Monday in New York, the one-month contract was trading at $18,650.
The two-month CBOE bitcoin futures contract was trading at $18,750, an 11% premium over the spot price, while the three-month contract was changing hands at $18,140, a roughly 12% premium.
Bitcoin has edged up against the dollar by 159% on the month, 2062% on the year and 1634% YTD, per investing.com data. The CBOE bitcoin futures 26% surge on debut seems modest by comparison. However tame the surge might seem by bitcoin standards, it stands out as volatile compared with traditional currencies or assets.
As of early Monday afternoon in New York, 3,951 one-month CBOE bitcoin futures contracts had changed hands, meaning around $73.1 million had been notionally traded, only 0.6% of the actual BTC 24h trading volume of roughly $12.15 billion.
The levels indicate a lack of large “short” positions betting against bitcoin.
“Anyone, especially a professional trading outfit, would be crazy to actually short sell this bull market,” founder of Bitcoin Center NYC Nick Spanos told Reuters. “But just because it doesn’t happen on day one doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.”
The CBOE bitcoin futures are cash-settled contracts. That means the exchange is allowing investors to ride the bitcoin bandwagon and bet on bitcoin’s price movements without having to actually hold any bitcoin. The CBOE futures are based on the auction price of bitcoin in U.S. dollars on the Gemini Exchange, owned and operated by cryptocurrency entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
— Cboe (@CBOE) December 11, 2017
Several unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges outside the United States had already been offering bitcoin futures contracts. However, the U.S. market debut on large, regulated exchanges is expected to give bitcoin greater legitimacy.
“Bitcoin futures will speed up the march towards legitimization of an asset class that only a few years ago many law enforcement agencies would have argued had limited legitimate reasons for people to use,” said Jo Torode, a financial crime lawyer at Ropes & Gray in London.
The CME Group (CME.O) is expected to launch its bitcoin futures contract on December 17. Nasdaq has also announced plans to offer bitcoin futures next year, as early as 2Q.
At press time, bitcoin (BTC) was up 0.62% on the day and 42% on the week, changing hands at $16,845.