U.S. regulator allows trading in Bitcoin related financial contracts

A Bitcoin coin is seen in an illustration

The exchange announced Friday that it would begin offering bitcoin futures trading, but it didn't specify a start date. Not only will it provide professional traders with the ability to short bitcoin for the first time, but it will also open the door to the creation of a Bitcoin ETF and likely entice Wall Street firms to step off the sidelines and engage directly with bitcoin and other digital assets.

The move is clearly meant to steal the thunder from fellow Chicago derivatives exchange CME, which announced on Friday that it will list bitcoin futures on December 18.

Official trading and full day trading of the futures will begin on December 11, and trading will be free through December.

Cboe Global Markets Inc. said Monday it will start trading bitcoin futures on December 10, after getting the green light last week from regulators.

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Bitcoin trading markets seem to have already priced the CBOE's move into their assessment of the cryptocurrency's price. "We are committed to encouraging fairness and liquidity in the bitcoin market", said Ed Tilly, chairman and CEO of Cboe Global Markets, in a statement. At 19:54 UTC on Monday, bitcoin was trading at $11,237.19, unchanged in the last 24 hours. The first bitcoin futures contracts on a regulated US exchange are set to launch on Sunday. But there are a couple of differences between bitcoin futures trading at the two exchanges.

"If the Commission determines that the margin the DCOs hold against bitcoin futures positions is inadequate, it can take measures to require that the margin levels be increased", CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintez said in a speech last week.

CME Group's Bitcoin futures will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR) which serves as a once-a-day reference rate of the USA dollar price of bitcoin. One bitcoin was worth just a fraction of a penny when it started trading in 2010, and by the start of this year was worth $1,000.

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