CME Group, the world’s largest futures exchange, is going to introduce bitcoin futures product in the second week of next month. The move is attributed to the growing client interest in the virtual currency.
“When can you be able to short this product, I think sometime in the second week in December you’ll see our contract out for listing,” Terry Duffy, CEO of CME, told CNBC during an interview.
Duffy announced on October 31 that CME Group was going to list bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of the year, pending regulatory review. At the time, the news provoked a tremendous surge in the price of bitcoin, which escalated by almost $1,000 in just a week since the announcement. Following the example of CME Group, major futures market in Argentina, Mercado de Termino de Rosario, disclosed its intention to offer bitcoin futures to investors.
CME CEO added during an interview that the platform is not going to control bitcoin’s price fluctuations. Instead, it will allow investors to take advantage of the cryptocurrency volatility.
“I’m not trying to rein in the volatility of bitcoin,” Duffy said. “But what I want to do is give it a place for other people to lay out that risk. Today you cannot short bitcoin. So there’s only one way it can go. You either buy it or sell it to somebody else. So you create a two-sided market, I think it’s always much more efficient.”
Still, he noted that the exchange might be halted for an hour in case of serious fluctuations. “I think that’s going to add a lot more structure to the marketplace,” he said.
Bitcoin was highly volatile this weekend. On Sunday, the digital currency dropped to over $5,500 from Saturday’s high of more than $6,8oo. However, the price has recovered then, rising to about $6,400.
The bitcoin futures will have a price limit of 20% above or below the prior settlement price and price fluctuation limits of 7% and 13% above and below that level. The price settlement will be cash-settled according to the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR), which tracks several bitcoin trading platforms.
According to Leo Melamed, the chairman of CME Group, with the launch of bitcoin futures, trading in cryptocurrency will no longer be merely speculative, as it will enable investors short-sell bitcoins thereby making two-way bets possible. This, he said, will attract more institutional investors.
Melamed is quite confident that bitcoin will become another asset class in the near future, similar to stocks and gold. “That’s a very important step in bitcoin’s history… We will regulate, make bitcoin not wild, nor wilder. We’ll tame it into a regular type instrument of trade with rules,” he said.
CME unveiled an initiative to publish bitcoin prices as both a real time spot price index and a reference rate in 2016, thus becoming the first large cryptocurrency exchange to implement such a measure.