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Regulators Allow Option Trading On Bitcoin: The First Step Towards Smoothing Volatility

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The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced over the weekend that it has issued a registration order to LedgerX LLC (LedgerX), granting it status with the CFTC as a Swap Execution Facility (SEF). These terms are opaque to most, but they are very important if you trade digital currency. It is important because many US based Funds currently are not able to commit capital without a mountain of paperwork and side pocket deals within the funds.  This passage makes it clean, and I fully expect volatility to start to tighten day one when active trading begins.

The Details

The trading will happen on a non-traditional exchange (not the CBOE) via LedgerX which is an institutional trading platform who have been patiently waiting for full regulatory approval from the CFTC to trade and clear options on Bitcoin. Many portfolio managers have wanted other vehicles that fit into their offering documents so they can commit capital, and the fact that the larger exchanges were outmaneuvered by and upstart is also a surprise.  I think in general the speed with which digital currency is coming into play reflects a softer regulatory environment across all markets.  I still do not understand why the SEC declined the Winklevoss ETF.  It makes no sense – but the SEC is historically a huge fade – ask Bernie Madoff’s clients.

LedgerX is now the first federally regulated bitcoin options exchange and clearing house which will list and clear fully-collateralized, physically-settled bitcoin options for the institutional market.

LedgerX

Back in May, Ledger Holdings, the parent company of LedgerX, closed $ 11.4 Million in Series B financing. Led by Miami International Holdings Inc. and Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments, this funding will go to support LedgerX’s plan to develop its regulated exchange and clearing house for bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Just some history, you need to know that on December 16, 2016, Ledger Holdings and Miami International Holdings, Inc. (MIH), announced that MIH had completed an investment in Ledger Holdings. Early investors in Ledger Holdings include Google Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, so these are not neophytes, but historically these have gone to the CME, CBOT or CBOE where they have a pool of liquidity.

It was a bit of luck that the arcane laws related to SEF’s (which are platforms that operate under the CFTC’s regulatory oversight for the trading of swaps), that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 authorized the creation of SEF’s years back. I view this as well thought out on behalf of LedgerX, but I am still flummoxed that the Chicago Mercantile (NYSE:CME) was asleep at the wheel.

What Options Mean for the Market

The conclusion is evident in today’s sell off across the board, and this is a good thing if you want mass adoption of digital currencies.  No one needs 150% implied volatility every day, it will keep a huge part of the market away.  The introduction of options trading for Bitcoin is the first step in smoothing volatility for all digital currencies. Portfolio managers worldwide applaud the ability to participate in a fun exciting asset class, and they get to do this without asking investors to sign additional paperwork – most of the standard agreements for hedge funds refer to approved CFTC or SEC products which opens the floodgates.  Hail Bitcoin Options !! Today is a good day for cryptocurrencies – making positive steps for global adoption.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Steve began his career at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1980 and ran Morgan Stanley Derivative Prop Trading for the firm. He continued his career as a Trader/Portfolio Manager for multiple Hedge Funds during the Internet Boom of the 90's. Steve is known as an expert in trading stocks and digital currency and has published thousands of articles and archived video with important market participants related to US Equities, private shares, and crypto currency. He offers a humorous, unique insight related to volatile stocks and the related back stories and drivers. He is a featured speaker on the conference circuit specializing in market volatility, liquidity and emerging market assets.




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  1. embersburnbrightly

    July 11, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Very exciting! Welcome aboard, Steve. 🙂

  2. bitsurfer

    July 11, 2017 at 12:35 am

    Wow, great news! Thanks Steve.

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Altcoins

Cryptocurrency Market Hits One-Week High as Volumes Spike 38%; Bitcoin Cash Jumps 10%

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The cryptocurrency market booked solid gains on Monday, as coin values and trading volume reached their highest levels in a week.

Market Update

With the exception of Tether’s USDT stablecoin, all major cryptocurrencies in the top-ten reported gains. In percentage terms, bitcoin cash was the strongest performer, rising more than 10% to a high of $804. That was BCH’s highest reading in nearly a month, according to CoinMarketCap.

The value of bitcoin reached a high of $6,691 Monday for a gain of nearly 5%. At press time, BTC/USD was trading at $6,674 on daily trade volumes of $4.6 billion. As Hacked previously reported, the $4 billion volume mark is closely associated with uptrends for the bitcoin price. Bitcoin is now eyeing resistance between $6,800 and $6,900, which is the upper end of last weekend’s rally.

Ethereum also notched one-week highs with gains of more than 5%. The second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap was last seen trading just above $476. The clean break above $450 is an encouraging sign for the bulls, who continue to target$500 as a critical inflection point for ETH/USD.

Ripple XRP showed positive momentum Monday as prices rose to fresh one-week highs. The so-called “banker’s cryptocurrency” is up 6.1% at $0.474. Ripple has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons lately as the San Francisco-company fends off another lawsuit claiming XRP is a security.

Market Sentiment Improves

A sudden shift in investor sentiment underpinned the market’s $20 billion gain on Monday. That shift was fueled by reports that BlackRock, the $6.3 trillion asset manager, is exploring entry into the cryptocurrency market.

Sometime over the past 12 months or so, the company has gone from vilifying crypto to treating it as a potential value driver. According to CNBC, BlackRock has been researching cryptocurrency since at least 2015.

At the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market was valued at $270.5 billion. It notched $271 billion earlier in the day, the highest in seven days.

Trading volumes shot up 38% to $14.2 billion, with Binance and Huobi each processing more than $1 billion in transactions.

Coinbase – a company betting big on firms like BlackRock entering crypto – has also been a source of optimism after it announced Friday that it has short-listed five coins for future consideration. The five coins in question are Stellar (XLM), Cardano (ADA), Zcash (ZEC), Basic Attention Token (BAT) and ox (ZRX).

Coinbase remains non-committal about whether it will eventually add these cryptocurrencies to its exchange listing. However, their mention was enough to spur double-digit percentage gains early Saturday.

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.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Price Gains Momentum as BlackRock Gets Serious About Crypto

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After a week of lateral moves, the bitcoin price rose Monday on reports that one of Wall Street’s biggest asset managers was assembling a team to explore cryptocurrency adoption.

Bitcoin Price Update

The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization peaked near $6,620 at 08:49 UTC, the highest in six days. At the time of writing, bitcoin was trading near the intraday high of $6,620 for a gain of 4%, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin held relatively steady over the weekend, with prices hovering between $6,300 and $6,400. The coin’s successful defense of $6,000 – a key technical and psychological threshold – has encouraged bids after trading volumes plunged to their lowest levels of the year.

As Hacked reported Sunday, turnover in the cryptocurrency market fell to $8.8 billion over the weekend. Bitcoin accounted for roughly a third of that total. On Monday, bitcoin’s trading volumes were back up to around $4.9 billion, the highest in two weeks.

Bitcoin is likely to run into resistance north of $6,800 – a region that capped last weekend’s rally. BTC/USD peaked at $6,866 on July 8.

Institutional Bull Run?

Bitcoin’s gains were fueled by speculation that BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset managers, is planning an entry into the cryptocurrency market.

London’s Financial News, citing unnamed sources, said BlackRock has assembled a working group to investigate blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Sources also indicated that the team of exports is looking at what other asset managers are doing with cryptocurrencies and how it can impact BlackRock’s underlying business. The findings of the research will be presented to senior management.

“Like most financial institutions, BlackRock has a working group that meets periodically to exchange information on blockchain and consists of employees from various parts of the business,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement, according to CNBC.

“We have been looking at blockchain technology for several years, recognizing potential for shared processes and data across market participants, clearing, settlement and reconciliation and simplified securities issuance.”

CNBC believes the working group was first assembled in 2015.

While cryptocurrencies continue to polarize Wall Street, major financial institutions are slowly changing their tack. It was only last year that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said that bitcoin was merely a “speculative” instrument used for anonymity and money laundering. Now, his company may be on the cusp of entering the market.

Exchanges like Coinbase are betting big on institutional adoption and have created a suite of custodial services aimed at luring this segment of the market. Industry experts believe that the next major bull market for cryptocurrencies will be driven mainly by institutions, marking a significant departure from the retail-dominated surge of 2017.

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.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Altcoins

Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds as Trade Volumes Recover from Yearly Low

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Cryptocurrency prices were seeing green Sunday, as market activity rebounded from the lowest level of the year with bitcoin and the major altcoins making tepid progress.

Crypto Market Update

Every cryptocurrency in the top-20 by market capitalization was trading in positive territory Sunday. As a result, the total market capitalization of all digital currencies rose by $6 billion to $254.5 billion. Bitcoin’s share of the pie remains roughly 43%.

The bitcoin price edged up 1.7% to $6,363, with the bulls continuing to defend the critical $6,000 level despite repeated downturns.

Ethereum, the no. 2 cryptocurrency by market cap, rose 2.4% to $447.

Bitcoin cash jumped 3% to $719. BCH has shown poise over the past five days even as accusations of node centralization continue to grow.

Ripple XRP rose 1.9% to $0.445. Meanwhile, EOS gained 2.4% to $7.13.

Volumes Hit 2018 Lows

Daily turnover in the cryptocurrency market bottomed fell to around $8.8 billion on Saturday, the lowest since November, according to CoinMarketCap data. Daily trade volumes rose by as much as 20% Sunday, reaching $10.5 billion. At the time of writing, 24-hour volumes were valued just under $9.9 billion.

Since the April downturn, trading volumes have thwarted multiple rally attempts for cryptocurrency prices. Daily turnover has crossed the $20 billion mark only once since June.

As Hacked previously reported, tepid volumes reflect a general decline in retail trading activity on major digital currency exchanges. This is further corroborated by the sharp drop in Google search results for terms like “bitcoin” and “cryptocurrency.” Basically, the half-year market downturn has spooked new traders from entering the market.

Amid the downturn, exchanges like Coinbase have reported a drop-off in app downloads as fewer traders show interest in buying cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, trading apps like Robinhood are still growing thanks to a suite of service offerings that extend far beyond cryptocurrency. Robinhood began offering cryptocurrency back in February but still maintains a thriving platform for traditional markets, such as stocks and ETFs.

Several leading exchanges have announced plans to relocate to jurisdictions with friendlier policies toward cryptocurrency. Malta, a tiny Mediterranean island state, has managed to lure Binance and OKEx to its shores thanks to favorable regulations.

As Hacked’s James Waggoner recently showed, much of the downturn in crypto trading activity has been associated with fears of a regulatory clampdown in jurisdictions like the United States and South Korea. In the case of China, those fears were realized last September when policymakers issued a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings.

However, a “tectonic shift” in regulatory thinking is currently underway, which could pave the way for a renewed uptrend in cryptocurrency markets. Case in point: the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has declared bitcoin and Ethereum to be non-securities. So long as there is no conveyance of ownership, ICOs may also fall under this favorable regulatory purview.

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.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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