Bitcoin as an investment tool has been a fairly difficult market to enter. Exchanges require extensive verification and technical knowledge to work with. There has also been the fear that a single computer crash can wipe out your entire savings if you are storing the coins locally. In another move towards widespread adoption and acceptance, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) has just began listing bitcoin futures, XBT.
Investing in a bitcoin future is very different from investing in bitcoin itself. With a future, you don't own any of the actual product itself. Instead, you are betting on what the price will be at a given date in the future. For example, you could invest money in the hopes that bitcoin passes $20,000 by February 1st. You don't get the actual coins, your entire position is just based on whether or not bitcoin will hit that price at that time.
The CME Group will also reportedly launch their bitcoin futures contract in the coming weeks. Being listed on these fully regulated exchanges is a big step towards legitimacy compared to where bitcoin was just a few years ago. Many hope it will eventually result in an official bitcoin ETF.
The CBOE's CEO Edward Tilly told Coindesk that they will use information gained from listing futures to make a case with the SEC for these bitcoin-linked ETFs and ETNs.
The CBOE will continue to evaluate the program's success in the coming months and may look to add other cryptocurrencies to their exchange as well. The futures surged on their first day of trading and as of publishing, are trading at 18,600 with an expiration of January 17th 2018.