Currencies  

Bitcoin futures product launch delayed

Bitcoin futures product launch delayed

The launch of a proposed futures product tracking the performance of the bitcoin crypto-currency has apparently been delayed.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group announced on 18 November that it intended to launch such a product.

As FTAdviser previously reported, the product would allow investors to gain exposure to the movements in the value of the virtual currency, without having to own the currency.

A notice on the CME’s website currently stated the product will be listed on the exchange in the fourth quarter of 2017.

But the news agency Reuters reported that a notice went onto the CME’s website stating the product would launch on 11 December, and that CME have now said this notice was posted in error.

A launch date of 11 December would have given CME just 20 days, including weekends and Christmas holidays, to launch the product.

The developments come as bitcoin hit a record high price of $8,362 (£6,312) on 21 November.

That high was achieved even after an exchange called Tether reported it had been hacked and millions in bitcoin was stolen.  

Earlier this month the European regulator echoed the concerns its British counterpart on the growth of cryptocurrencies and so-called initial coin offerings.

The European Securities and Markets Authority expressed concerns that investors are unaware of the high risks they are taking when investing in initial coin offerings.

An ICO is a way of raising money from investors using virtual coins or tokens where these are issued and put for sale in exchange for fiat money for other virtual currencies such as Bitcoin or Ether.

The regulator also expressed concerns that firms involved in ICOs may be conducting their activities without complying with European Union legislation.

In a statement this morning, ESMA said investors risk losing all their invested capital if they invest in ICOs, adding that some of these coins had “no tangible value”.

In September the Financial Conduct Authority warned investors they should be prepared to lose all their money if they invested in ICOs.

In its warning the FCA said ICOs are “very high-risk, speculative investments”.

This move by the FCA and ESMA follows a decision by the People’s Bank of China in September which made the use of ICOs illegal.

david.thorpe@ft.com