CME to Begin Trading Bitcoin Futures December 18

A Bitcoin coin is seen in an illustration

The announcement by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) paves the way for CME and CBOE to become the first traditional USA regulated exchanges to launch trading in bitcoin-related financial contracts, a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency that could lead to greater regulatory scrutiny. Due to its volatility, bitcoin futures will be subject higher margin levels and intraday price limits, the CME said. "We are operationally ready and we will be announcing a launch date shortly", the spokesperson said in the new statement.

The bitcoin price surged in response to the news, rising to a daily high of $10,760 on bitcoin exchange Bitfinex.

"This is a tacit approval for the industry as a whole; digital assets are now mainstream", said Charles Hayter, chief executive officer of interactive cryptocurrency platform CryptoCompare. It was last up 6.6 percent at $10,600.

The bitcoin price rallied to a 24-hour high following the announcement that USA derivatives exchange CME has self-certified to list bitcoin futures contracts in mid-December.

A USA regulator cleared the way on Friday (Dec 1) for bitcoin futures to trade on major exchanges, but warned investors the digital currency is prone to elevated risk and volatility.

"Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the Commission has dealt with in the past", said CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo in a press release.

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.

CME has been vying with CBOE to introduce the first bitcoin-related financial product. 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.

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