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BY Fintan Ng - November 28, 2018

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Early 2019 debut for Nasdaq’s bitcoin futures

Nasdaq working to launch bitcoin futures in early 2019
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Nasdaq, which operates the tech-heavy stock market of the same name, is going ahead with plans to list bitcoin futures in early 2019 despite regulatory uncertainties.

According to earlier reports, Nasdaq had first planned to launch the bitcoin futures in the second-half of this year.

Bloomberg confirmed the plans in a Nov 27 report with two persons familiar with the matter, saying that the stock exchange operator has been working to satisfy the concerns of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

On the same day, crypto news site CoinDesk reported that US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Jay Clayton again highlighted the concerns over market manipulation of cryptocurrencies that has delayed the approval of bitcoin derived exchange traded funds (ETFs).

The news site says Clayton does not see “a pathway to a cryptocurrency ETF approval until concerns over market manipulation are addressed”.

“How that (manipulation) issue gets addressed, I don’t have a particular path. But it needs to be addressed” before an ETF gets approved, CoinDesk reports in an investment conference the crypto news site organised.

One of the sources told Bloomberg that Nasdaq is looking to launch bitcoin futures in the first quarter of next year.

While sentiment has been badly affected by the slump in the crypto markets, the stock exchange operator is betting on sustained interest, especially from bitcoin bulls and institutional funds that have invested in the underlying blockchain technology.

Nasdaq is not the only exchange operator looking to launch next year. Bakkt, the digital assets unit of the Intercontinental Exchange, and owner of the New York Stock Exchange, is launching physically delivered bitcoin futures contracts on Jan 24.

According to Bloomberg, trading in the bitcoin futures offered since last December by CME and Cboe has been “modest”, with the lack of the hoped-for institutional participation.

To distinguish its offering, Nasdaq is looking to track bitcoin prices from numerous spot exchanges as compiled by VanEck Associates, an investment management firm that has also been trying to get a bitcoin-based ETF approved by the SEC.

In contrast, CME uses prices from four markets while Cboe uses just one.

Image courtesy of Nasdaq website.

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