- Scott Olson/Getty
- Bitcoin futures went live on Cboe Global Markets, the Chicago-based exchange group, on Sunday night.
- Both futures and spot bitcoin were trading up Monday morning.
- Liquidity on the market was thin soon after the launch and Cboe’s website crashed.
Bitcoin futures launched with a slow yet bullish start.
The price of the new contracts set to expire in January was trading 11% higher Monday morning at $17,830 a coin, according to data from Bloomberg.
Cboe’s bitcoin future contracts, which allow investors to bet on the future price of the red-hot virtual currency, debuted Sunday night at about $16,000, a premium over the price of bitcoin in the underlying spot market. Bitcoin shot up more than $1,000 within the first 10 minutes of the new market, which went live at 6 p.m. ET.
Bitcoin continued its tear into Monday morning, trading up against the US dollar at $16,240.
Trading in the early stages of the new market was muted. Only 800 contracts traded within the first two hours of the market being live, according to Cboe. At last check, 2,866 contracts for January were purchased. Still, volumes and the bullishness of the market impressed one trader.
“There was more volume than I was expecting,” Garrett See, the CEO of DV Chain, the cryptocurrency trading division of the Chicago-based DV Trading, told Business Insider.
“It was difficult for folks to get access to this market on day one since only some brokers were clearing trades for clients,” he added.
JPMorgan and Citigroup, two of the largest futures brokers, did not participate in the market Sunday. Nor did Societe Generale. Goldman Sachs said it would clear futures for some clients.
“The futures are trading at a pretty significant premium to the spot,” See said a few hours after the new market went live. “That is surprising to me.”
“I would have expected it to trade in the middle of the range of where spot bitcoin trades across the different exchanges,” he added.
According to See, this suggests people aren’t running in to short the market and long-term holders aren’t dumping their exposure.
“It’s really encouraging futures are trading at such a big premium,” See said.
Interest in the new market appeared to put pressure on Cboe. Its website was unresponsive at times soon after trading was underway. Here’s Cboe in a tweet:
“Due to heavy traffic on our website, visitors to http://www.cboe.com may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable. All trading systems are operating normally.”
“The launch is going as expected sans [Cboe’s website] crashing,” John Spallanzani, the chief macro strategist of GFI Group, told Business Insider Sunday night. “It speaks to the interest in bitcoin. There hasn’t been this much interest in something since the internet boom.”
Bitcoin futures are the latest evolution in the market surrounding the cryptocurrency, which has appreciated more than 1,400% this year. Two other exchange operators are set to launch their own bitcoin futures contracts.
There are numerous reasons bitcoin futures products are a big deal for Wall Street and the world of crypto. First, the launch of bitcoin futures by establishment firms is likely to open the door to wider participation in bitcoin trading. It could also pave the way for an exchange-traded fund, which could bring more investments into the space. Most important, it could help dampen bitcoin’s spine-tingling volatility.