The half a trillion dollar cryptocurrency market is for the taking, and savvy market makers are not going to give up positions easily. Cboe was the first futures market for bitcoin, launching last Sunday a full week ahead of its crosstown and much larger competitor, CME Group Inc. With the might and heft CME brings into the space on Monday, Cboe is stealing a little of its thunder with TD Ameritrade’s announcement that it too will allow clients bitcoin futures on the same day.
Manic Monday, TD Ameritrade’s Cboe Bitcoin Futures Play
“At this point,” TD Ameritrade announced in an email, “we believe the market is showing signs of adequate liquidity for the Cboe product. Therefore, on Monday, December 18th, we will launch the Cboe bitcoin futures contract on our platform for a subset of qualified retail clients.”
The popular online retailer will require a minimum 25,000 USD in order to trade futures. It’s also increasing the margin one-and-a-half times beyond Cboe’s requirements, to 66 percent. To trade on a $17,000 bitcoin futures contract, for example, TD Ameritrade clients must fork over 11,000 USD. Entering the market at this point, the firm has elected not to simultaneously trade on CME, staying exclusively, for the moment, with Cboe as it waits to see how the rival exchange handles the digital asset.
TD Ameritrade is one of the largest retail futures traders around, and its Cboe play adds even more liquidity to the market. And though the Cboe contracts have been trading without incident, volume is very much on the low end due to most Cboe traders being outside the US, largely in South Korea and Japan where they obviously do not have US futures accounts. TD Ameritrade could be at once an answer to the volume conundrum and an easier way in for US institutional investors to enter bitcoin futures.
Regarding limiting trades to just Cboe, TD Ameritrade managing director JB Mackenzie explained: “Right now we are taking the same approach we did with the Cboe product, to wait and see how it goes. We want to watch that market open and become an orderly marketplace and see who the participants are in that marketplace. This is the same process we use with any new product. We want to see how the market reacts,” he told Bloomberg.
What do you think about the TD Ameritrade move? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay, TD Ameritrade.
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Author: C. Edward Kelso