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Nasdaq to launch bitcoin futures in the second half of the year, officials say

Pedestrians walk past the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Nasdaq plans to launch bitcoin futures as early as the second quarter of 2018, according to exchange officials.

The CBOE and the CME have also announced plans to launch futures tied to the cryptocurrency shortly. A Nasdaq spokesperson said that the exchange's futures would differentiate from CBOE and CME because Nasdaq would base its price off of 50 bitcoin sources from around the world, while CBOE is currently using one and the CME is using four.

One issue facing bitcoin products is the issue of what happens if there is a "hard fork," i.e. what happens if bitcoin splits into competing products. Nasdaq said that both sides of the fork would go in the index for one day, and after that the value of the other fork would be reinvested in bitcoin and the value of the index would be adjusted.

So, for example, if bitcoin at $11,000 split into two forks of $9,000 and $2.000, both would remain in the index for a day, and then the $2,000 fork would be reinvested in the $9,000 bitcoin and the index would be adjusted.

Bitcoin broke above $11,000 for the first time Wednesday and is up more than 1,000 percent in 2017.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the Nasdaq futures launch. The Journal also reported that Cantor Fitzgerald is working to launch a bitcoin derivative next year.

-- With reporting by Fred Imbert