Jeff Sprecher, CEO of Intercontinental Exchange Inc. and owner of the NYSE seems to be having second thoughts about letting his competitors launch Bitcoin futures trading first.
It is by now very well known that Bitcoin futures trading is set to launch on both CME and CBOE this month and the extreme volatility we’ve seen in the price of Bitcoin over the last 48 hours or so is likely representative of this fact.
Chicago-based CBOE is set to launch its futures offerings on Sunday and, as markets open in the US on Monday morning, we should start to get some idea of demand for the asset and – just as importantly – the spread of opinion as to where Bitcoin goes next (that’s what futures are designed to represent, after all). CME Group, also based in Chicago, will launch its identical (for all intents and purposes) offering a week later.
ONE SURPRISE ABSENTEE…
CME and CBOE are two of the largest futures exchanges in the world but – in a surprise move to many – another top name on the list, NYSE, is delaying a move into the Bitcoin futures space. This delay is all the more surprising given that NYSE has previously been a first mover in this sector, having launched its bitcoin index, which settles based on daily Coinbase prices, in the early summer of last year.
And it now seems that the guys in charge over at the NYSE are already regretting their decision not to follow up on the index with a futures offering.
“WE MAY BE STUPID”
At an investor conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York this week, Jeff Sprecher, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange and Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, had this to say when asked about NYSE’s decision to hold back:
We may be stupid for not being first on that… I don’t have the answers, I wish I knew… I don’t know what to make of cryptocurrencies.
A couple of things are important here.
First, that these large-scale financial institutions are concerned about their lack of exposure to Bitcoin is as strong an indicator as any to just how much global perception of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency has shifted over the past twelve months.
The second is rooted in Sprecher’s admitting that he doesn’t know what to make of cryptocurrencies. This time last year, cryptocurrencies were being widely denounced as speculative (and almost certainly fraudulent) assets by those at the top tier of institutional finance.
For a guy like Sprecher to now come forward and admit that he has no idea what’s going to happen is a major validation of the suggestion that the balance of power is shifting away from the historic, institutionalized environment to a decentralized and much more equal platform.