CME Group (CME, +0.38%), the world’s largest derivatives exchange operator, began trading bitcoin futures Sunday, with the contract opening at what is currently its session high and dropping over 6% within the first half hour.
The CME bitcoin front-month futures opened at $20,650. The new contract was recently at $19,290 on CME, below the $19,500 reference price set by the exchange for the January contract.
The reference price, from which price limits are set, is $19,600 for the February contract, $19,700 for March and $19,900 for June, according to CME.
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The launch of bitcoin futures is viewed as a major step in the digital currency’s path toward legitimacy that should ease the entry of big institutional investors.
The week-old bitcoin futures contract at the Cboe was last trading at $19,280, up 6.5% on the day.
Last week, Chicago-based derivatives exchange Cboe Global Markets launched bitcoin futures, which saw the price surge nearly 20% in its debut.
Some investors believe the CME bitcoin futures could attract more institutional demand because the final settlement price is culled from multiple exchanges.
The Cboe futures contract is based on a closing auction price of bitcoin from the Gemini exchange, which is owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss