Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable bull run continued as it passed $8,000 for the first time around 6pm UTC yesterday (Nov. 19). The price has been flirting with $8,000 for days, probably because several signs point to the long promised arrival of institutional money in the cryptocurrency markets.
One indicator is the increasing popularity of bitcoin futures. Over the weekend, the first year-long contract for the price of bitcoin was agreed by traders on the LedgerX platform, an issuer of derivatives regulated in the US. The contract is an option to buy bitcoin at $10,000 by Dec. 28, 2018. According to LedgerX, this carries an implied probability that bitcoin will be above $10,000 on that date. LedgerX has conducted $16 million in bitcoin futures trades since it opened for business on Oct. 20, according to CoinDesk.
Another major futures trading platform will also start testing bitcoin derivatives today. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) will begin letting customers test bitcoin futures today. The exchange plans to let customers trade bitcoin futures for real before the year is up.
Another sign that institutions are getting serious about trading bitcoin is a new service offered by the exchange and wallet provider Coinbase. It launched Coinbase Custody, a storage solution for institutions with at least $10 million in cryptocurrency holdings, last week (Nov. 16). Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong claimed in a blog post announcing the product that there’s over $10 billion in institutional money on the sidelines of the cryptocurrency market, awaiting custodial and other solutions, although he didn’t provide a source for this estimate.
The eye-popping returns on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are difficult for any fund manager to ignore. Their entry to the still young cryptocurrency markets could drive the price of bitcoin and its ilk higher still.