As the bitcoin futures race progresses, will other firms make a U-turn on cryptocurrency futures trading?
Despite the ruckus created by what is seen as Wall Street’s effort to keep up with the cryptocurrency boom, other brokers are staying on the safe side—at least for now. So far, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe), and the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) are leading the bitcoin futures race.
A futures contract protects a holder from the risks of a possible loss by “freezing” the value of assets to an agreed amount in an agreed span of time. It also means any possible profit beyond this agreed value is awarded to the other party—in this case the brokerage firm, which assumes the risk of potential losses in exchange for this potential profit.
But due to the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, several brokerage firms remain adamant in adding them to their futures trading platforms. This was the case with CME a few months ago before finally “giving in to client demand.” Back then, CME Group president Bryan Durkin said they had no plans of adding BTC to its futures trading, saying “I really feel that bitcoin is very nascent right now.” He added in an interview on Bloomberg Television: “I really don’t see us going forward with a futures contract in the very near future.” They have made a complete U-turn on their stance since and will be launching their bitcoin futures contracts on December 18. Cboe says they will follow shortly before the year ends.
JP Morgan, whose CEO Jamie Dimon went on a series of infamous tirades against bitcoin earlier (and said he would fire any of their traders if they are caught trading bitcoin), has also gone on reverse and now says they are considering BTC futures trading—even going so far as to say that Bitcoin may be the new gold.
While these companies are now in on the trend, the rest remain on the safe side. Ally Invest held a wait-and-see strategy, with president Rich Hagen saying they will offer the product immediately when CME does. Fidelity, on the other hand, said they currently have no plans to offer it, while others—like Charles Schwab Corp and Bank of America Corp. declined to comment, according to Bloomberg.
It can be noted that some have expressed complete opposition to bitcoin futures trading. Interactive Brokers chairman Thomas Peterffy said last month that bitcoin futures can “destabilize the real economy,” in an open letter to addressed to Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo.