CME Takes Cautious Stance Toward Crypto-Futures Besides Bitcoin

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  • CEO Terry Duffy says exchange would ‘need to learn more’
  • Contrasts with rival Cboe’s openness to other such products
CME Has No Imminent Plan to Expand Beyond Bitcoin, CEO Says

CME Group Inc. doesn’t plan to offer futures based on cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin any time soon, in contrast to rival Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s openness to the idea.

The world’s largest exchange owner introduced Bitcoin futures in December, a week after Cboe got into the market. According to CME CEO Terry Duffy, digital currency markets are polarizing and unpredictable enough that his company is going slowly.

“I’m not going to get over my skis on something that could be potentially damaging to the reputation of the company,” he said Thursday during an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “To say that you should just automatically go ahead and list others I think is a little irresponsible right now,” he added. “We need to learn more.”

Cboe seems a bit more aggressive.

“You look at the entire crypto space and you look at what other products have the liquidity and the notional size, a derivative makes sense,” Chris Concannon, Cboe’s president and chief operating officer, said on Jan. 17. He gave a caveat: Cboe won’t introduce other crypto-derivatives until its futures exchange starts using the trading software acquired last year from Bats Global Markets. That upgrade is scheduled for Feb. 25.

Though Bitcoin has grabbed the bulk of the hype, there are about 1,500 other digital tokens listed on Coinmarketcap.com. Ethereum and Ripple have the second- and third-highest market capitalizations among digital currencies, $100 billion and $38 billion, respectively, trailing only Bitcoin’s $155 billion, according to Coinmarketcap.

Traders are using Cboe’s product more, even when accounting for the fact that CME’s contract represents five Bitcoins versus just one at Cboe. During the past five days, Cboe has seen about 7.5 times more volume, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Read More: CME Rebuffs Smaller Bitcoin Fans as Cboe Leads in Crypto-Futures

— With assistance by Brian Louis

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