Within moments of launching Bitcoin futures, the CBOE (Chicago Board Options Exchange) website crashed Sunday, raising fears of inadequate preparation to meet the massive influx of traffic. The crash also raised concerns of a possible DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks in the future. While the CBOE officials were sorting out the issue, Bitcoin comfortably traded above the $15,000 level in the crypto currency exchanges.
Most of the popular crypto currency exchanges faced slow down or crashed this year due to unexpected rise in traffic. The market was sincerely hoping that things will get sorted out when the Wall Street gets involved, as they are known to use servers which can handle millions of transactions in milliseconds. In fact, many speculators believed that they will blow away traditional exchanges. However, it was not the case when Bitcoin futures were introduced in the US’ CBOE exchange.
The Bitcoin futures were launched in CBOE exchange on Sunday, 5 PM Central time. However, the sudden influx of traffic caused the servers to slow down and display 404 errors. Even before the listing took place, market watchers were worried that Bitcoin price may be manipulated by unregulated exchanges.
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To limit risk, CBOE employed several measures, including a two minute and five minute trading halt in the event the price swings by more than 10% and 20%, respectively. The margin requirements were also raised from 33% to 44%, a figure higher than that of commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, and gold. As liquidity was expected to be low in the initial stages, the minimal maintenance margin was also increased from 30% to 40%.
Despite these precautions, financial market experts were concerned about the possible manipulation of Bitcoin’s price. The Futures Industry Association (FIA) issued the following statement:
“We remain apprehensive with the lack of transparency and regulation of the underlying reference products on which these futures contracts are based and whether exchanges have the proper oversight to ensure the reference products are not susceptible to manipulation, fraud, and operational risk.”
Likewise, the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) cautioned traders saying
“Bitcoin is a commodity unlike any the commission has dealt with in the past. We expect that the futures exchanges, through information sharing agreements, will be monitoring the trading activity on the relevant cash platform”.
Yesterday, the Bitcoin derivative contract expiring in January 2018 changed hands at $18,740, which is a premium of more than $2,000 compared to the spot market. Nearly 2,700 contracts were traded, with the lowest traded price being $15,000. The cash settlement at expiry will be based on the closing price provided by Gemini Exchange, the 22nd largest exchange by volume traded (according to CoinMarketCap.com).
Gemini Exchange is owned by the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. To make Bitcoin futures a success, CBOE is offering commission free trading for one month. For the first time in decades, the futures industry is trying to manage risk that may arise from a highly volatile and unregulated asset.