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Cboe Global Markets CEO Edward Tilly discusses Monday’s launch of the trading of futures contracts for bitcoin. Sunday quickly became a 24-hour microcosm of bitcoin’s own wild ride this year, marked by technical glitches and surging valuations. The first day left true believers cheering, yet kept many mainstream financial professionals peering uneasily from the sidelines. While the derivatives were a success by some key measures — they didn’t blow up — their 24 percent rise in price in the first session also bolstered longstanding misgivings about speculation. 13 percent higher than the underlying asset — setting off two temporary trading halts along the way. That gave new oomph to the rally and debate.
Michael Kazley, co-founder of Crescent Crypto Asset Management, acknowledging he assumed the contracts would more closely track the cryptocurrency. It can be explained by demand for exposure to the price of bitcoin from investors who otherwise cannot or do not want to own actual bitcoins. Others saw the gap as a sign that it may not be possible to marry the virtual currency with the traditional financial industry. When contracts expire, buyers get cash — not bitcoin itself — weakening links to the underlying asset. The worry is that derivatives will act too independently.
Aaron Brown, a former managing director at AQR Capital Management who invests in the cryptocurrency and writes for Bloomberg Prophets. It was supposed to mimic the price of the physical, it wasn’t supposed to hit limit triggers twice. Wall Street trading desks have been yearning for more volatility in many asset classes this year, so they can make more money handling client transactions. Bitcoin may be too volatile. An industry group made up of big banks, brokers and traders said last week it was concerned that the cryptocurrency’s volatility could lead investors to default on contracts if prices swing hard.