New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Chairman Jeff Sprecher said he and his exchange were ‘fools’ for letting their competitors beat them to the launch of Bitcoin futures trading. Ironically, the NYSE has been a pioneer when dealing with Bitcoin, as it introduced its Bitcoin index in the early summer of 2016.
At the investor conference sponsored by the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York in early December 2017, Sprecher admitted that their failure to follow up on their Bitcoin index project could be just plain stupidity:
“We may be stupid for not being first on that… I don’t have the answers, I wish I knew… I don’t know what to make of cryptocurrencies.”
NYSE rivals launching Bitcoin futures trading
NYSE’s rivals, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the CME Group, are scheduled to launch their Bitcoin futures products in December. The CBOE will introduce its futures offerings on December 10 at 5 PM Central time. The first full day of trading will be Monday, December 11.
Meanwhile, the CME Group is scheduled to launch its similar Bitcoin offerings on December 18. These scheduled offerings may be the key reasons behind the extreme volatility being seen in the price of Bitcoin in the last 48 hours. The Bitcoin price has skyrocketed to new record highs and experienced record drops as bears and bulls battle on the markets.
Volatility tied to uncertainty
Such massive volatility is likely caused by uncertainty over how the futures market will react once Bitcoin is added. These markets will enable big money, particularly traditionally conservative financial institutions, to bet on the price of Bitcoin. While some are likely to place large “long” positions, others will undoubtedly short the asset they believe to be in a bubble. Futures markets will enable institutions to place large “shorts” with ease, and there’s always the chance that some of these deep pockets may seek to influence the underlying Bitcoin market in order to ensure their bets pay off.
Regardless of the initial reaction of the futures markets, these developments show that Bitcoin and other digital currencies are slowly but surely entering the mainstream financial sector. The balance of financial power is gradually shifting away from the historic, institutionalized environment to a decentralized and much more equal system.