Investors waiting for Bakkt, the first bitcoin futures contracts to launch from the Intercontinental Exchange, will probably have to wait longer.
ICE, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, has been anxious to launch bitcoin futures for months. However, it remains in must-wait-for-the-government mode. The government agency that needs to give its blessing, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, still hasn’t decided to approve or decline it.
The issue could be as simple as how to regulate the name ICE has given it, which is Bakkt.
Concerns remain about the viability of ICE’s plans. The news of the impasse comes on the heels of CCN’s earlier reporting on the issue. The CFTC’s commissioner Dan Berkovitz was steadfast in saying the futures and options markets regulator is working hard on the Bakkt proposal. While he’s refused to provide an approval deadline, Berkovitz said the agency is not anti-crypto or anti-blockchain.
Berkovitz recently reassured the crypto community that the body is committed to freeing the market from fraud and manipulation rather than shooting down new technology:
The CFTC is pro-innovation. We are not out to get new technology. We are out to get the bad guys.
Previously, the company delayed the listing of bitcoin futures, citing an unforeseen increase in demand for its futures product. Bakkt stated last November that additional time was needed to prepare the infrastructure required to serve a large group of investors in the U.S. The announcement reads:
ICE Futures U.S., Inc. will list the new Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Daily Futures Contract for trading on trade date Thursday, January 24, 2019, subject to regulatory approval. The new listing timeframe will provide additional time for customer and clearing member onboarding prior to the start of trading and warehousing of the new contract.
There has been criticism towards Bakkt despite proponents about bitcoin futures contracts attracting institutional investors. CCN spoke to Wall Street player Caitlin Long last year about the effort. She described it as a double-edged sword. Like many other observers of the space, Long noted that liquidity was key:
In the good context, liquidity is improving because an asset’s investor base is growing. New investors are coming in, especially institutional investors.
As we wait to see what the CFTC does about Bakkt, another player is already out. CBOE ditched bitcoin futures, announcing earlier in March that it decided to stop listing new XBT futures contracts for now.
Following the announcement, prominent trader Mark Dow stated that abysmal liquidity figures make it difficult to believe institutional investment is going into Bitcoin. Former Senator John Collins tweeted about the development, noting he’d spoken to the Journal.