CBOE plans to launch bitcoin futures, announces agreement with Winklevoss brothers' digital currency exchange

Key Points
  • CBOE Holdings and Gemini Trust announced an agreement Tuesday for subsidiary CBOE and its affiliates to use Gemini's bitcoin market data to create bitcoin trading products.
  • CBOE plans to offer cash-settled bitcoin futures as early as the fourth quarter of 2017, pending regulatory review.
  • The news follows the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission's approval in late July for a U.S. firm to offer bitcoin options.
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The Chicago Board Options Exchange, the largest U.S. options exchange, is planning to launch its own bitcoin derivatives trading products by early next year.

Pending review from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) plans to offer cash-settled bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of this year or sometime in early 2018, according to a Tuesday announcement.

The CFTC told CNBC in a statement that, "to date, the Commission has not received a filing for a bitcoin futures contract from the CFE."

Designated contract markets like CFE do not necessarily need prior approval from the CFTC in order to list a product for trading, according to the commission's website. Rather, those designated markets can list trading products by filing a self-certification with the commission one business day before the initial listing.

"We've really come to the conclusion recently that cryptocurrencies are here to stay," John Deters, chief strategy officer of CBOE parent CBOE Holdings, told CNBC in a phone interview.

Deters said the bitcoin futures, once reviewed, will be available to both institutional and retail investors.

The news was part of a bigger announcement Tuesday that CBOE Holdings and Gemini Trust, the digital currency exchange founded by brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, have entered a multiyear exclusive global licensing agreement allowing CBOE and its affiliates to use Gemini's market data in creating bitcoin derivatives and indexes.

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The Wall Street Journal first reported news of the agreement Tuesday.

"We very much look forward to responding to the growing interest in cryptocurrencies through the creation of bitcoin futures traded on a regulated derivatives exchange," CBOE Holdings Chairman and CEO Ed Tilly said in a release.

CBOE Holdings' other subsidiaries include the Bats exchanges.

In late April, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it would review its rejection of the Winklevoss brothers' application to list a bitcoin exchange-traded fund on the Bats BZX exchange.

The SEC declined to comment.

"By working with the team at CBOE, we are helping to make bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies increasingly accessible to both retail and institutional investors," Gemini CEO Tyler Winklevoss said in a press release.

On July 24, the CFTC announced it approved digital currency-trading platform LedgerX for clearing derivatives, which would mark the first federally supervised options venue for bitcoin.

LedgerX said at the time it plans to launch bitcoin options in early fall for institutional investors, although those firms could, in turn, offer retail investor products.

has more than doubled in value this year, while rival digital currency Ethereum has gained more than 2,000 percent. The value of all digital currencies has jumped from around $20 billion at the beginning of this year to more than $100 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

"We believe derivatives are the logical next step in the evolution of the bitcoin market," Gemini co-founder and president Cameron Winklevoss told CNBC in a phone interview. "In order for bitcoin to continue to grow, you need to incorporate it into the existing market system."

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