US exchange operator CME Group has outlined plans to launch bitcoin futures as the cryptocurrency continues to gain traction.
The Chicago-based firm said it was responding to growing interest in bitcoin from its clients.
CME plans to launch the bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of this year, subject to regulatory approvals.
Having risen five-fold since the beginning of the year, the cryptocurrency has been garnering ever increasing investor attention, but also controversy.
CME´s move into bitcoin is likely to be viewed as a major endorsement at a time when the cryptocurrency has been on the receiving end of sharp criticism.