CBOE to Launch Bitcoin Futures Sunday, Leapfrogging CME Group

The CBOE Futures Exchange will begin offering bitcoin futures beginning 6:00 p.m. ET Sunday, a clear sign that the race for cryptocurrency dominance is heating up.

Futures Announced

The announcement to enter the cryptocurrency market this weekend was made on Monday by CBOE chairman and CEO Ed Tilly.

“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,” he said in a release.

The release also indicated that trading in CBOE bitcoin futures would be free through December. The futures contract will trade under the ticker symbol “XBT” and will be cash settled against the price quoted by Gemini Trust, the cryptocurrency exchange founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

CBOE confirmed last month it would venture into the bitcoin space, but hadn’t indicated when the contract would go live. Before Monday, it was assumed that the Chicago-based exchange would launch its bitcoin futures contract would begin early next year.

Prior to the announcement, it was generally assumed that CME Group would be the first to launch its bitcoin futures platform. Earlier this week, the exchange received approval from the U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to list bitcoin futures.

Last week, Nasdaq also threw its name in the mix for bitcoin futures, according to reports from Bloomberg News. It is widely expected to become the third major U.S. exchange to enter the market. Although Nasdaq does not have the large institutional backing as CME or CBOE, it will offer a more comprehensive pricing model based on 50 data sources provided by VanEck. By comparison, CBOE has just one while CME has four.

Bitcoin Euphoria

Bitcoin has emerged as the biggest story of 2017, with prices soaring tenfold since Jan. 1. Once viewed as an obscure and esoteric digital currency, bitcoin is now considered a leading alternative asset.

BTC/USD surpassed $11,000 last week en route to fresh record highs. Prices continued to push toward record levels on Tuesday, bringing the total market cap closer to $200 billion.

At press time, bitcoin was valued at $11,659.

Bitcoin’s record-setting run has laid the groundwork for a bull market in cryptocurrency. The total market capitalization of the crypto asset class crossed $350 billion over the weekend. That represents a gain of more than 1,800% since the start of the year.

At last check 19 cryptocurrencies were valued at $1 billion or more, with OmiseGO (OMG), QTUM (QTUM) and Lisk (LSK) joining the exclusive club.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Chief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi