NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bitcoin investors expect futures volumes to perk up when CME Group Inc, the world’s largest derivatives exchange operator, launches its own contract to wager on the cryptocurrency on Sunday. The second U.S. bitcoin futures launch is seen as another step towards big institutional investors warming up to a volatile asset that had until recently been accessible only via largely unregulated markets. Like the futures contract launched last week by rival Cboe Global Markets, CME’s will be cash settled. But it will be priced off an index of data from several cryptocurrency exchanges, instead of just one. “The CME contract is based on a broader array of exchanges,” said Matt Osborne, chief investment officer of Altegris, a $2.5 billion alternative investments provider based in San Diego, California. “So there is a possibility that the CME contract may generate more interest and more volume.” Bitcoin has drawn attention for its eye-popping price gains, but it is also notoriously volatile. Bitcoin exchanges and digital currency wallets meanwhile have struggled with issues like outages, denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and hacks. Bitcoin hit another record high on Friday near $18,000 on the Luxembourg-based BitStamp platform, and has soared roughly 1,700 percent so far this year.
Many professional traders use quantitative systems to identify trading opportunities and that requires a history of data which the bitcoin futures contracts do not yet have.
“Volumes are going to slowly increase as professional traders get comfortable with the price action and more importantly get comfortable with the volatility and the margin usage,” said Altegris’ Osborne.