ECB's Coeure doesn't see macroeconomic risks from bitcoins

PARIS (Reuters) - People who invest in bitcoins are putting their money at risk, but there are no broader macroeconomic risks, ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said on Monday.

Bitcoin prices have surged in volatile trading this month in anticipation of the launch on Monday of futures contracts that fans have hopes would lend the cryptocurrency more legitimacy.

As prices have surged, central bankers and regulators have warned that investors are putting themselves at risk of losing their shirts in a potential speculative bubble.

Coeure, the ECB director in charge of its market operations, said that banks had little exposure to bitcoins and that they had in the past been the “vectors for the transmission of systemic risks” to the financial system.

Therefore, risks were limited to the speculative funds and individuals who bought them, “but it is not inherently a macroeconomic risk”, Coeure said at the presentation of an economic textbook to which he contributed.

Bitcoin futures eased back from an initial surge of almost 22 percent to trade up 13 percent on Monday, in the eagerly awaited U.S. futures market debut.

Most fund managers at mainstream asset management firms and other institutional investors say they will not be lured into the market by the launch of the futures.

Reporting by Yves Clarisse; writing by Leigh Thomas; editing by Michel Rose