New contract to provide regulated trading venue for cryptocurrency futures market
Derivatives marketplace operator CME Group Inc (NASDAQ:CME) just announced that it has self-certified the initial listing of its Bitcoin futures contract to launch Monday, December 18, 2017.
We are pleased to bring Bitcoin futures to market after working closely with the CFTC and market participants to design a regulated offering that will provide investors with transparency, price discovery, and risk transfer capabilities,” said Terry Duffy, CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Though we have worked through a lengthy, comprehensive process with the CFTC to get to this point, we recognize bitcoin is a new, uncharted market that will continue to evolve, requiring continued collaboration with the Commission and our clients going forward. At launch, our new Bitcoin futures contract will be subject to a variety of risk management tools, including an initial margin of 35 percent, position and intraday price limits, and a number of other risk and credit controls that CME Group offers on all of its products.
The new contract will be listed on and subject to the rules of CME. It will be available for trading on the CME Globex electronic trading platform, and for submission for clearing via CME ClearPort, effective on Sunday, December 17, 2017 for a trade date of December 18.
CME Group’s Bitcoin futures will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR) which serves as a once-a-day reference rate of the U.S. dollar price of bitcoin. Since November 2016, CME Group and Crypto Facilities Ltd. have calculated and published the BRR, which aggregates the trade flow of major bitcoin spot exchanges during a calculation window into the U.S. Dollar price of one bitcoin as of 4:00 p.m. London time. The BRR is designed around the IOSCO Principles for Financial Benchmarks. Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken are the constituent exchanges that currently contribute the pricing data for calculating the BRR.
The CFTC has also made a statement on self-certification of Bitcoin products by CME, CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) and Cantor Exchange today. Commission staff held rigorous discussions with CME over the course of six weeks, CFE over the course of four months, and had numerous calls with Cantor. CME, CFE and Cantor agreed to significant enhancements to contract design and settlement, and CME to margining, at the request of Commission staff, as well as more information sharing with the underlying cash bitcoin exchanges to assist CME, CFE, Cantor and the CFTC in surveillance. The Commission, CME, CFE and Cantor will also coordinate to the extent possible in any surveillance activities, including providing the CFTC with additional surveillance information.
As trading on these DCMs evolves, the Commission will continue to assess whether further changes are required to the contract design and settlement processes and work with the DCMs to effect any changes.
The CFTC will also work closely with the National Futures Association (NFA). NFA has issued an investor advisory on this topic to its members, including futures commission merchants and introducing brokers that are involved in the trading of any virtual currency futures product, and will closely monitor its member firms trading this product. If the Commission determines that the margin the DCOs hold against bitcoin futures positions is inadequate, it can take measures to require that the margin held at the DCOs be increased, including requiring that they use a longer margin period of risk to generate margin requirements.