Are Bitcoin Futures a Damp Squib?
There was much fanfare and market movement at the dawn of futures, but the trading volume was unexpectedly low.
On the announcement of Bitcoin futures, the price headed towards a new all-time high of $7,000. In the week leading up to their commencement with CBOE Bitcoin went on a monster rally as people bought in ahead of this paradigm-changing move, then futures went live and the website crashed.
Now, with the dust being given a chance to settle, the numbers do not look that impressive for futures trading on CBOE, was all the hype for nothing? What does it mean for Bitcoin that the mainstream hook that is futures is not as enticing to Wall Street-types as hoped?
A tasty hook
Bitcoin futures, which started on CBOE, and will soon be on CME and even Nasdaq, have all the draw for institutionalized investors, this would also open up the cryptocurrency market to a massive influx of new (old) money.
Futures allow for these institutionalized investors to stick to the regulated trading platforms, avoiding the unregulated exchanges. In fact, they even help bypass some of the niggly issues such as waiting times for transactions. And the biggest white elephant is the possibility to short Bitcoin.
Day one at CBOE, however, was a little quiet. The site crashed within minutes, but the company also assured that it did not affect trading. It now looks as if that massive influx of traffic was more to do with curious bystanders than actual traders.
In the first 12 hours, the total volume reached 2,776 contracts worth one Bitcoin each, and the trading largely dried up in the last six hours. At 17,600 - the level at which the January contract appeared to settle -- that's less than $49 mln.
Comparing this to what happens on the normal Bitcoin market, it is seriously underwhelming. The average daily volume of Bitcoin transactions for the last 10 days was $2.7 bln.
Futures, when it comes to other markets like oil and agricultural products, are usually the bigger market, so it really shows how slow the Bitcoin futures market has begun.
Still early days
Of course, it has barely been 48 hours since one company launched Bitcoin futures, and despite the interest and mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin, there is still very much a wait-and-see mentality, especially with the traditionalists.
Wait and see may also be affecting Bitcoin futures as those of the fringes wait for those in the middle to feel the full brunt of a Bitcoin future. Even time itself will help the trading volume rise, and the addition of other companies offering futures.