The CME Group announced today that bitcoin futures trading would launch by year’s end.
This will allow speculators to play bitcoin price movements without taking the counterparty risk involved in dealing with the new bitcoin exchanges.
Depending on the liquidity of the new futures instrument, speculators may also be able to avoid the high fees and large spreads present on some of the major crypto exchanges.
The new instrument will also allow owners of bitcoin to hedge their holdings. (The original purpose of the futures markets is hedging.) This new hedging ability may bring more players into the bitcoin space, if there is a group on the margins that was staying out due to lack of hedging.
It will be interesting to see if this group exists, because given how speculative bitcoin seems, I think the availability of hedging shouldn’t make a difference.