Look to the Futures

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has announced plans to permit bitcoin futures trading across three exchanges. This will allow individuals to bet on the value of the cryptocurrency without investing in it directly.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) have already self-certified contracts for bitcoin futures, with the former setting a start date of December 18. Meanwhile, the Cantor Exchange has self-certified a contract pertaining to bitcoin binary options.

"Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the Commission has dealt with in the past," said J. Christopher Giancarlo, the chairman of the CFTC, in a statement. "As a result, we have had extensive discussions with the exchanges regarding the proposed contracts, and CME, CFE, and Cantor have agreed to significant enhancements to protect customers and maintain orderly markets. In working with the Commission, CME, CFE and Cantor have set an appropriate standard for oversight over these bitcoin contracts given the CFTC’s limited statutory ability to oversee the cash market for bitcoin."

Laying Down the Law

Bitcoin has had a very prosperous year, and its value stands to be bolstered by this news. CME's initial announcement of its intention to pursue futures trading helped the cryptocurrency rise above the $6,000 mark; a rise that has only continued — as it's now surpassed the $11,000 mark.

This most recent development is expected to be a good one overall for bitcoin, but it's also likely to accelerate federal regulation regarding cryptocurrency trading. The exchanges involved have agreed to assist the CFTC in helping surveil the market, according to a report from Bloomberg.

That said, cryptocurrency is under scrutiny by authorities: a federal judge in San Francisco recently ordered Coinbase to supply the IRS with details of more than 10,000 traders, and the establishment of futures trading will likely tack on the additional need for oversight.

Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.

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