CME Sounding Out Crypto Traders to Gauge Market Demand for Ether Futures, Options

CME headquarters, Chicago (Daniel J. Macy/Shutterstock)

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the largest U.S. regulated market for bitcoin futures, has been sounding out cryptocurrency traders to gauge their interest in a listing of futures and options for the Ethereum blockchain’s native currency.

  • Darius Sit, founder and chief information officer at Singapore-based QCP Capital, told CoinDesk in an interview that CME had asked his firm whether it might be interested in trading ether (ETH) derivatives on the exchange.
  • Ether is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, at $41 billion.
  • A CME Group spokesperson declined to comment when reached by CoinDesk, adding, “We don’t comment on whether or not we’re developing any products.”
  • The CME has become one of the leading venues for institutional investors to bet on bitcoin, following the launch of a futures contract in late 2017 and options earlier this year.
  • Partly due to the explosive development of decentralized finance (DeFi) this year, there has been rising demand from traders for ether derivatives that can be used to make leveraged bets on price moves or simply to hedge.
  • For now, the biggest venues for trading ether futures are on non-U.S. exchanges led by OKEx, Huobi and Binance, according to the data firm Skew.
  • CME previously launched an Ether-Dollar Reference Rate in May 2018 along with an Ether-Dollar Real Time Index, but as recently as June the exchange told CoinDesk it had “no plans to introduce additional cryptocurrency products.”
  • Vishal Shah, founder of bitcoin crypto derivatives exchange Alpha5, told CoinDesk in a Telegram message that he sees CME ether derivatives as “overdue.”
  • The chatter around CME’s rumored ether products launch also comes after U.S. regulatory authorities recently brought a series of civil and criminal charges against popular derivative exchange BitMEX.

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