ICE: Bakkt bitcoin futures to begin trading on 12 December
Bitcoin will spend its 10th birthday putting on a suit and tie in preparation for institutional trading.
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is a significant name in traditional markets, and was also one of the first incumbents to announce its plans for a physically-settled bitcoin futures contract.
This would open the floor for real, regulated price discovery of bitcoin itself, and a way of partly separating deeper desire for ownership of bitcoin as a practical asset from the shallower desire for exposure to bitcoin price movements.
The initial launch of these physically-settled bitcoin futures was tentatively slated for November, but now it's been solidly clarified for 12 December instead.
Note: The planned December launch did not happen either. The Bakkt futures launch date was pushed back to late 2019 instead.
Mark it in your calendar
Many are expecting this to have significant effects on bitcoin prices, with sentiment generally being quite buoyant. It will also provide a clearer look at how much real demand there actually is for bitcoin, which people will likely start factoring into their calculations going forward.
That institutional movement into bitcoin is being so broadly welcomed is an ongoing irony given the roots of the technology, and that government investment firms like GIC are also investing in the space, and bitcoin in particular, is even more ironic.
— CryptoQuotation (@cryptoquotation) September 29, 2018
In the case of ICE's physically-settled bitcoin futures, it also mashes up some of the more fantastically obsolete elements of the existing financial systems with bitcoin. Its trading hours, for example. Bakkt markets will run from 8pm to 6pm EPT.
Bakkt itself is also warehousing the bitcoin as a trusted central financial institution, and acting as the middleman for trades, charging exchange and clearing fees in the process.
Many of the biggest developments for bitcoin are completely at odds with the point of blockchain technology and the philosophies behind the creation of bitcoin.
But perhaps bitcoin was always going to be more of a tool for institutional than individual interest, just like gold bars are much more useful for financial institutions but useless to the doomsday prepper who buries it in their backyard, yet equally sought-after by both.
And given the way bitcoin has developed over the years it was probably going to end up this way all along. Its vulnerability to hard fork schisms and the rise of altcoins has diluted the community, pulled talent to other more promising projects, and left remaining bitcoin maximalists quite ideologically isolated, with only the lambo-hunters for company. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Bitcoin's 10th birthday will be on 31 October – the date bitcoin was first revealed to the world. That it has lived long enough to get old, go mainstream and stray so far from its roots is a resounding, if somewhat bittersweet, testament to the power of Satoshi's vision.
Oh well. There's still Monero.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC, ADA
- Economist: Stablecoins are doomed to be either too fragile or unscalable
- Coinbase going public: A new way to get broad crypto exposure?
- This week’s big altcoin moves have been cooking since June
- IOTA launches Pollen update: End of an era, start of another
- 5 curious findings from a new government cryptocurrency survey