CME Group has been beaten to the punch by cross-town rival Cboe Global Markets, Inc. in bitcoin futures trading. In a press release today, Cboe announced it will offer the service to traders beginning Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. CST.

CME had announced last week that it would begin bitcoin futures trading on Dec. 18. (See also: CME To Launch Bitcoin Futures.) 

Bitcoin trading markets seem to have already priced the Cboe’s move into their assessment of the cryptocurrency’s price. While CME’s announcement sent bitcoin’s price hurtling past the $11,000 mark for the second time last week, CBOE’s release hasn’t had the same effect.

Bitcoin’s price levels have mostly displayed incremental gains within the $11,000 price range. At 19:54 UTC on Monday, bitcoin was trading at $11,237.19, unchanged in the previous 24 hours. (See also: Bitcoin Price Reverses Course After CME Announces Bitcoin Futures Date.) 

“Given the unprecedented interest in bitcoin, it’s vital we provide clients the trading tools to help them express their views and hedge their exposure,” stated Ed Tilly, CEO of Cboe's. “We are committed to encouraging fairness and liquidity in bitcoin markets.” (See also: How To Invest In Bitcoin Futures.) 

Bitcoin futures will trade under the “XBT” ticker and will trade for 23 hours, five days a week, according to Cboe. They will also be cash-settled, similar to CME’s bitcoin futures. But there are a couple of differences between bitcoin futures trading at the two exchanges. For example, traders are not allowed to hold more than 1,000 bitcoin futures contracts at the same time in CME.

At Cboe, the contract limit is 5,000. Cboe will derive its bitcoin contract price from the Gemini bitcoin exchange, which is owned by the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler. (See more: Winklevoss Twins Are Bitcoin's First Billionaires.)

On the other hand, CME plans to use the services of four bitcoin exchanges -- Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken -- to set its Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR). To ensure minimal impact on markets due to bitcoin’s price swings, traders will have to pay 33 percent of their trade’s price upfront as compared to the 35 percent for CME bitcoin futures trades. Those amounts may become higher in the future.

“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.   

The CBOE’s announcement brings bitcoin one step closer to institutional traders, who are expected to be the primary customers for such trades. The entry of institutional money is also expected to act as a stabilizing mechanism for the cryptocurrency’s recent wild price swings.

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