U.S. Markets

Cboe puts the brakes on bitcoin futures

FILE PHOTO: Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Global Markets sign hangs at its headquarters building in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Hirtzer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cboe Global Markets said it no longer plans to offer bitcoin futures contracts as the exchange operator reassesses its plans for trading digital asset derivatives amid slumping volumes.

Currently listed Cboe XBT futures contracts, which expire in June, remain available for trading, Cboe said in a statement late on Thursday.

Cboe launched the first U.S. bitcoin contracts in December 2017, around the time the underlying cryptocurrency hit an all-time high near $20,000. CME Group Inc followed shortly after with its own product, which it still lists.

The contracts were aimed at making it easier for investors and speculators to trade the new asset class. Building liquidity in the underlying product was also seen as a crucial step to gaining approval for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

However, interest in Cboe’s bitcoin futures contract has waned along with a crash in the price of bitcoin. The cryptocurrency is currently at around $3,855.

Chicago-based Cboe declined further comment.

The exchange currently has an application with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to list a bitcoin ETF.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Steve Orlofsky