CME says bitcoin futures coming this year, but date not set

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CME Group Inc, the world’s biggest futures exchange, said on Monday it still plans to launch a futures contract for bitcoin this year, but that a notice on its website stating the contract would begin trading on Dec. 11 was posted in error.

A copy of bitcoin standing on PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, October 26, 2017. Picture taken October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

As bitcoin passed above the $8,000 level for the first time on Monday, cryptocurrency-related websites were abuzz with news of the CME notice that said the CME Bitcoin Futures contract would become effective on Dec. 10, a Sunday, for trading on Dec. 11, pending regulatory review.

But the notice was later removed from CME’s website and Laurie Bischel, a spokeswoman for the exchange operator, said the original posting “was due to an error with the website,” without giving further details.

CME is vying with rival Cboe Global Markets Inc to launch the first bitcoin-related financial product on a traditional, regulated exchange. [nL4N1N65PG]

Bitcoin is notoriously volatile and has risen in price by almost 50 percent in just the last days, prompting multiple warnings of a bubble. [nL8N1NQ49H]

To help rein in some of that volatility, CME will not allow the trading of bitcoin futures at prices 20 percent above or below the settlement price from the previous day, according to the exchange’s website.

As of Monday, CME had not yet filed with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to launch bitcoin futures, a spokeswoman for the company said.

Cboe also said it has yet to file with for a bitcoin futures contract with the CFTC, but spokeswoman Hannah Randall said the exchange operator was in active discussions with the regulator.

Cboe has said it sees launching a bitcoin futures contract as the first step to launching an exchange-traded fund based on bitcoin prices.

CFTC regulations allow designated contract markets such as CME to list products for trading without prior CFTC approval by filing a written self-certification with the regulator, meaning CME stipulates the product complies with the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations.

To self-certify a new product, the exchange must file its submission with the CFTC by the open of business on the business day before a product is to be listed.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli