UPDATED 20:26 EST / MARCH 19 2019


Cboe to dump support for bitcoin futures contracts in June

Fifteen months after launching support for bitcoin futures, Cboe Global Markets today announced that it’s dropping them when the last existing contracts expire in June.

The Cboe was the first exchange to list bitcoin futures and did so with much fanfare in December 2017. The XBT contracts gave the holder the ability to buy or sell bitcoin at a set price in the future. In theory, the futures contracts took away some of the speculation surrounding bitcoin by locking in projected future prices.

Cboe did not specify why it was dropping support for bitcoin futures but did not rule out cryptocurrency derivatives products in the future.

“CFE (Cboe Futures Exchange) is assessing its approach with respect to how it plans to continue to offer digital asset derivatives for trading,” the exchange said in a statement. “While it considers its next steps, CFE does not currently intend to list additional XBT futures contracts for trading. Currently listed XBT futures contracts remain available for trading.”

The reasoning behind the move was not shared, but it’s likely not coincidental that it comes after a precipitous drop in the price of bitcoin since the futures contracts were launched. The Cboe bitcoin futures were launched at the top of the bitcoin market, as bitcoin neared $20,000, whereas today it is trading at around $4,000 after a yearlong bear run that has seen billions wiped from its collective value.

As The Motley Fool pointed out, the decision is a big step backward for bitcoin, since it indicates there’s not widespread institutional demand for the product.

“Because it was the first mover in the space, Cboe’s rollout of bitcoin futures was widely seen as a major potential catalyst for institutional interest in the cryptocurrency space,” the report noted. “It also was thought to greatly legitimize bitcoin as an investment, not just as a vehicle for speculation.”

Cboe is not the only player in the bitcoin futures market, however. Rival CME Group continues to offer contracts on the cryptocurrency.

Image: Cboe

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