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Anybody Want Bitcoin Futures? Anybody?

The contracts that were seen as a step toward bringing crypto to Wall Street remain a tiny market.

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Illustration: Sally Thurer for Bloomberg Businessweek

On a Sunday evening last December, as the cryptocurrency craze consumed the world, traders waited eagerly at their computers to witness the debut of a flashy new financial product.

Bitcoin futures were set to start trading on Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s exchange at 5 p.m. Chicago time. Futures allow an investor to place bets on the price something will hit at a later date without having to buy the asset itself. Industry enthusiasts hoped the contracts would help bring Bitcoin trading into the financial mainstream, ushering in big investors with bulging pocketbooks.