(Dow Jones) The first US bitcoin futures will start trading next week, as duelling Chicago futures exchanges seek to cash in on surging investor interest in the digital currency.
Cboe Global Markets's new bitcoin futures will go live at 5 p.m. Central time on 10 December, with the first full day of trading set for 11 December, the firm said Monday.
That gives Cboe a head start on CME Group, its larger crosstown rival, which plans to launch its own bitcoin futures on 18 December. The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday allowed both exchange operators to go forward with bitcoin futures.
Cboe is working with online brokerages to allow retail investors to start trading its bitcoin futures as soon as possible, a spokeswoman for the company said.
Easier to trade bitcoin
Bitcoin futures would allow traders to buy in on rises and falls in the digital currency, similar to the way oil, corn or gold futures work. The emergence of bitcoin futures could make it easier for both Wall Street banks and small investors to trade bitcoin.
A huge price run-up this year has sparked intense investor interest in bitcoin, which soared to more than $11,800 at one point on Sunday, up more than 12-fold from the beginning of 2017, according to CoinDesk.
Still, many financial institutions remain wary of bitcoin due to its volatility, uncertain regulatory status and lingering association with illicit activity. Sceptics call it a bubble.
Vote of confidence?
Announcements by Cboe and CME that they would seek to launch bitcoin futures were seen as a vote of confidence in the digital currency. Cboe was the first to unveil its plans, in August, while CME followed suit in October.
The race between the two rivals could determine which exchange establishes the dominant bitcoin futures contract. CME is the world's largest exchange company, with a market capitalisation of $51bn and roots going back to the mid-19th century.
Cboe, worth $14bn, was founded in 1973 as the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Its first trading floor was a space that had once been the smoking lounge for the Chicago Board of Trade - an exchange that is now part of CME.