Cryptocurrency enthusiasts took the decision by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) to launch bitcoin futures contracts in mid-December of 2017 as a largely positive sign for the leading digital currency by market cap. Bitcoin had already clenched the dominant position among a growing field of cryptocurrencies, maintaining dominance even as newer and flashy alternatives hit the market.
In mid-December, the launch of futures related to bitcoin seemed to suggest that the cryptocurrency world was coming closer toward the mainstream investment world, too. Now, after the first bitcoin futures contract closed last week, it seems that the close may have been a victory for those who were bearish on the top-ranked cryptocurrency. (See also: Bitcoin Futures on CBOE vs. CME: What's the Difference?)
First Futures Closed at $10,900
According to Coin Telegraph, the first bitcoin futures contract closed on January 17 at $10,900. As of roughly a week before, there were just under 2,000 short position contracts for bitcoin futures active on CBOE. As of the time that the first batch of futures closed, bitcoin had fallen significantly.
CBOE chief executive Ed Tilly remarked on the outcome, indicating that "[the] market experienced a smooth operational close and the settlement process worked as designed."
Down From $17,000
On December 11, 2017, the day that CBOE launched the bitcoin futures contract, the price of a single coin hovered around $17,000. (See also: CBOE to Start Bitcoin Futures Trading on Dec. 10.) The flurry of activity on the CBOE site crashed the exchange temporarily.
CBOE's launch was followed just a week later by CME Group, which offered bitcoin futures trading on December 18, 2017. One distinction between the two is that CBOE's contracts represent a single bitcoin, while CME's are tied to five coins. The first batch of CME bitcoin futures contracts will expire on January 26.
While the launch of bitcoin-linked futures contracts may suggest that mainstream financial institutions are warming to the idea of cryptocurrencies more broadly, it remains to be seen exactly how the futures market will play out.
CFA Russell Rhoads wrote on the CBOE blog that "the question I am constantly hearing is, 'how will the futures prices relate to spot bitcoin pricing,' and the best...answer I can give is, 'I don't know.'" For the time being, it seems that the earliest futures contracts for the top cryptocurrency ended up favoring bearish investors.
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