As investors rush into bitcoin, buffer bitcoin exchange big Wall Street banks are hitting the brakes. Belpointe Chief Strategist David Nelson on the outlook for bitcoin. Merrill Lynch and Citigroup Inc.

Sunday, people familiar with the matter said . Société Générale SA are still evaluating their approach to bitcoin futures, people familiar with the situation said Thursday. ABN Amro Group will be handling trades “for a small selected group of professional clients,” a spokeswoman for the Dutch bank said in an e-mail. Banks play a key role in facilitating futures trades for hedge funds and other big trading firms. If they don’t provide access to the new market, some of their customers might be unable to place bets on bitcoin futures. The banks may change their minds and start offering the service.

Still, their hesitation could put a damper on the hotly anticipated launch of bitcoin futures, which proponents see as a huge step forward in the evolution of the digital currency. Chicago-based exchange operator, plans to open the first U. 10 days after regulators gave it the greenlight — a tight time-frame for many firms to get comfortable with the new product, market participants say. Cboe’s larger crosstown rival CME Group Inc.

A Cboe spokeswoman said Sunday’s launch would go ahead as planned. The exchange declined to release a list of banks prepared to handle trading in its bitcoin futures, citing confidentiality. 23 at the start of the year. The rapid increase has made it difficult for more buttoned-up Wall Street firms to ignore the digital currency, despite concerns over its uncertain legal status and links with illicit activity. Now, banks are trying to catch up with surging investor interest, while at the same time managing the risks associated with bitcoin’s notorious volatility.

To access the futures market, a trader needs to open an account with a brokerage. The broker can be liable for losses if that trader’s bets go wrong. Many futures brokerages are grappling with how to handle the risks of bitcoin futures due to the volatility of the digital currency, brokers said. Banks in their role as futures brokers act as a buffer to counterparties, so they are on the hook should their clients suffer losses they can’t pay.