Bitcoin edged closer to financial legitimacy on December 10, following its debut on the Cboe Futures Exchange. It marks the first time the digital currency has featured on a major US exchange and indicates growing levels of acceptance in mainstream financial circles.
The highly anticipated debut witnessed the value of bitcoin futures grow by more than 20 percent, with the one-month contract rising from $15,460 to a high of $18,700. The increased trading activity resulted in reduced speeds and temporary disruptions on the Cboe website, with trading forcibly halted on two separate occasions in an attempt to cool the market.
The highly anticipated debut witnessed the value of bitcoin futures grow by more than 20 percent
Excitement was understandably high, with the cryptocurrency’s value having undergone a more than 15-fold increase in 2017. However, Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of Capital Market Laboratories, told Reuters that activity in the futures market could gather even greater pace once the heavyweight financial traders get on board.
“Even if there is an institution or institutional-sized trader out there, they are going to want to make sure that the mechanics work first, just for the futures,” Gottlieb said. “I think the excitement will come when the futures market is established. That can take a few days.”
As with all futures markets, no bitcoins are actually being traded on the Cboe exchange. Instead, investors are able to buy and sell contracts that enable them to bet on the price of bitcoin falling or rising in the future. The futures listing will, however, expose more conventional investors to the bitcoin phenomenon, giving the cryptocurrency broader exposure and acceptance.
Of course, just as bitcoin supporters are welcoming its futures debut, naysayers believe it merely encourages the growth of an already emerging bubble. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has denounced the currency as a “fraud” and, if he is proved to be correct, the coming crash will be a painful one.