The announcement by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) paves the way for CME and CBOE to become the first traditional US regulated exchanges to launch trading in bitcoin-related financial contracts, a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency that could lead to greater regulatory scrutiny.
The U.S. derivatives regulator said on Friday it would allow CME Group Inc and CBOE Global Markets Inc to list bitcoin futures, after the rival bourses showed their proposed contracts and trading arrangements met necessary requirements.
The CME Group, which owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, will start trading bitcoin futures December 18, the company said. "We are operationally ready and we will be announcing a launch date shortly", the spokesperson said in the new statement.
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The decision opens the door for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and CBOE Futures Exchange to offer contracts for futures of the virtual currency, rather than trading the actual currency.
"Though we have worked through a lengthy, comprehensive process with the CFTC to get to this point, we recognize bitcoin is a new, uncharted market that will continue to evolve, requiring continued collaboration with the Commission and our clients going forward. Nevertheless, investors should be aware of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts".
In order to regulate trading, all three exchanges and the Commission will be heavily regulating trading, as well providing the Commission with additional surveillance information regarding the futures.