Trading of bitcoin futures on the CME officially started on Sunday evening. But that's a win because CME's contracts are five times more valuable - they're tied to five bitcoins compared with only one with Cboe's futures. Gabor Gurbacs of VanEck Associates Corp. said: "One of the biggest issues when it comes to investing institutionally in digital assets is banks and larger institutions can't hold an unregulated instrument in their balance sheet, and a futures contract is something they can hold".
The launch of bitcoin futures is viewed as a major step in the digital currency's path toward legitimacy, which should encourage the entry of big institutional investors.
"The launch should increase buy-side pressure and potentially be the catalyst that pushes bitcoin above US$20,000,"said fund manager Shane Chanel of ASR Wealth Advisers in Melbourne". On its debut on Dec 10, the Cboe traded almost 4,000 contracts during the full session.
The CME exchange may see higher volume overnight as markets open on Monday morning in the US.
TradeStation also noted that its supported the launch of the first Bitcoin futures offering from the USA exchange.
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In the futures market, margin refers to the initial deposit made into an account in order to enter into a contract. The margin for an S&P 500 futures contract, by contrast, is 5 per cent, analysts said.
The derivatives exchange was one of the first to move from the open outcry, "pit-style", form of trading common in the nineties, to a full-fledged electronic trading platform. "We have had a lot of customer interest, and we have spent a lot of time educating them as to the differences between the two products".
Last week, TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation said that it will offer CBOE's contracts starting today but will hold on the CME contracts until they demonstrate sufficient liquidity. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. demanded that some clients set aside collateral that equaled 100 per cent of the value of their trade.
Spot bitcoin eased 1.9 per cent on the Bitstamp exchange to US$18,650, after surging to a record high of US$19,666 on Sunday.
The margin requirement at CME is 35 per cent, while at Cboe, it is 40 per cent, reflecting bitcoin's volatility.