CME Group, the world's largest futures exchange, will launch bitcoin futures trading in the fourth quarter of 2017, pending regulatory review, according to a statement CME released Tuesday.
"Given increasing client interest in the evolving cryptocurrency markets, we have decided to introduce a bitcoin futures contract," said Terry Duffy, CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in a statement.
The price of bitcoin per the U.S. dollar will be based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR) and will be updated once a day at 4 p.m. London time.
The Bitcoin Reference Rate, which CME built with cryptocurrency trading platform Crypto Facilities Ltd., aggregates the trade flow of major bitcoin exchanges like Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken to calculate the price, the company says. The BRR was designed using financial benchmark principles by International Organization of Securities Commissions, the global securities and futures trading regulator.
An attractive aspect for mainstream investors looking to get in on the bitcoin action is that CME, like all regulated marketplaces, uses a central clearing house to settle all trades. Bitcoin exchanges, which are largely unregulated, do not have central clearing houses and all trades are settled between the buyer and seller.
According to the Wall Street Journal, CME's bitcoin contracts could provide an easier way for investors to bet on bitcoin. CME's regulated marketplace, where agricultural products, oil, and gold futures are also traded, could help bitcoin inch closer to a mainstream asset.
After CME's announcement on Tuesday morning, the price of bitcoin hit an all-time high, topping $6,400 for one bitcoin.