Last October, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Heath Tarbert told attendees of DC Fintech Week that U.S. Ethereum futures were six to 12 months away. Six-and-a-half, it turns out.
On May 11, TD Ameritrade-backed cryptocurrency derivatives exchange ErisX announced that it now offers physically settled ether (ETH) futures contracts to both institutional and retail investors. It already offered physically settled Bitcoin futures.
The ETH-USD contracts have monthly and quarterly expirations, ErisX said in a Medium post.
It is the first exchange to offer ETH futures in the United States. The CFTC gave ErisX its cryptocurrency futures license last July.
“We strongly believe that the Ethereum blockchain community and broader capital markets benefit from access to regulated products and we are pleased to be the first U.S. exchange to offer these futures contracts,” said Thomas Chippas, CEO of ErisX, in a statement. “Our contract sizes are accessible for any investor while our technology stack and regulatory framework meet institutional expectations.”
Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin, the CEO of ErisX-investor ConsenSys, said the new offering will “meet market demands for a secure, transparent, compliant and sophisticated Ether futures product.”
Calling Ethereum the “leading programmable blockchain” being actively used in real-world applications, Lubin added, “As the digital fuel for the network, Ether is structured similarly to commodities traded in traditional capital markets today.”
The move comes less than a week after the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) granted ErisX’s clearing and settlement arm, Eris Clearing, a virtual currency BitLicense, as well as a money transmitter license. While those technically only allow the holder to do business in New York, the BitLicense is far and away the most difficult license for cryptocurrency firms to obtain, giving it substantial credibility with institutional investors.
In it May 11 announcement, ErisX said all trades will be “executed through the Exchange’s central limit order book, which ensures all submitted orders are treated equally, and are cleared at the ErisX clearinghouse to eliminate counterparty risk.”
Binance.US goes big
On the same day, Binance.US cryptocurrency exchange CEO Catherine Coley announced that the American affiliate of Binance—the largest exchange by volume—had launched an over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk.
The Binance.US OTC Trading Portal allows large customers to trade in amounts greater than $10,000 directly with each other, keeping trades off the exchange’s order books, and thus private, the company said in a blog post.
It also makes it possible to trade a large amount of crypto in a single transaction, saving time and clearing the trade at a single price, the post said.