When trading begins at 5 p.m. U.S. central time on the world’s largest options and futures exchange, investors will be able to bet on – or against – bitcoin without actually buying or selling it.
A sign of maturity for the cryptocurrency ecosystem at large, the contract listing is just one of several such milestones this year, including the expected launch next week of a bitcoin futures contract from CME Group.
What’s more, it could also revive another effort to bring liquidity and mainstream respectability to the cryptocurrency – namely, the development of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).
In an interview, Edward Tilly, CBOE’s chief executive officer, said the exchange may use information gleaned from futures trading to make a case to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow bitcoin-linked ETFs and exchange-traded notes (ETNs).
“All of that information goes into building the next steps,” Tilly told CoinDesk, adding:
“One of those potential next steps would be moving into ETFs and ETNs that would take SEC approval.”
Talk about a bitcoin ETF by the chief executive of CBOE is notable for two reasons.
ETFs are tradable securities tied to an index, commodity or basket of assets, and are available for purchase by retail investors. Bitcoin ETFs could conceivably be an appealing option for individuals enticed by the asset’s price gains, but put off by the hassles and risks of storing and safeguarding it.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly to the nascent crypto asset industry, this would not be the first stab at a bitcoin ETF…