Bitcoin futures jumped more than 20 percent in their eagerly anticipated U.S. debut, which backers hope will encourage wider use and legitimacy for the world’s largest cryptocurrency even as critics warn of the risk of a bubble and price collapse.
The launch on Sunday night may have caused an early outage of the Chicago-based CBOE Global Markets’ website. The exchange said that due to heavy traffic on the CBOE Global Markets website, the site “may be temporarily unavailable.”
The one-month bitcoin contract opened trade at 6 pm (6.00 p.m. ET) at $15,460, dipped briefly and then rose to a high of $18,700. As of 0430 GMT, it was up 16 percent from the open at $17,940, with 2,211 contracts traded, reports Reuters..
On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin prices surged 7 percent to $15,720. It is up more than 1,400 percent so far in 2017, and its gains in the past month have been rapid.
Experts had worried that the risks associated with the currency’s Wild West-like nature could overshadow the futures debut, but so far the price action has been unlike the wild swings saw in the past few weeks. Bitcoin tumbled 20 percent in 10 hours on Friday.
“Even if there is an institution or institutional-sized trader out there, they are going to want to make sure that the mechanics work first, just for the futures,” said Ophir Gottlieb, the chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Capital Market Laboratories.
“I think the excitement will come when the futures market is established. That can take a few days,” Gottlieb added.
The futures are cash-settled contracts based on the auction price of bitcoin in U.S. dollars on the Gemini Exchange, which is owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
Market participants said the launch of the futures contract wouldn’t necessarily reduce volatility in the cryptocurrency.