LedgerX dangles US$100,000 Bitcoin contract

Business | 17 Jul 2019 12:56 pm

The most bullish of Bitcoin backers can now bet on the largest cryptocurrency soaring to US$100,000.

U.S.-regulated derivatives exchange LedgerX unveiled a call option that pays off if Bitcoin surpasses that price by December 2020, Bloomberg reports.

Such a move implies a 10-fold increase in the digital token from Tuesday’s price and would take Bitcoin’s market cap toward US$2 trillion.

The option will be the first derivative available to retail investors after LedgerX won approval in June from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to offer contracts to mom and pop investors.

LedgerX has offered Bitcoin derivatives to institutional clients for two years. It is unclear how much demand there will be for options so far out of the money.

The call debuts with Bitcoin in the midst of a 25 percent rout over three weeks, after its price more than tripled from the start of the year.

“Often what happens is the first trade is the most important, and everybody else watches it,” Chief Executive Officer Paul Chou said in a phone interview.

LedgerX’s institutional customers with assets of between US$10 million and US$1 billion each have expressed interest in the new derivative, he said.

“Dozens and dozens of these institutions got back to us saying we’d be interested in trading a contract like this,” Chou said. “I understand US$100,000 is a large number, but a lot of us who’ve been in this space remember Bitcoin at US$1, and then it hit US$10 and US$100 and US$10,000. A $100,000 contract doesn’t even make us blink.”

Bitcoin made its debut 10 years ago with a value of less than one cent. It climbed to almost US$20,000 at the end of 2017 before a spectacular crash wiped out three-quarters of its value.

The announcement comes just as Bitcoin derivatives exchanges such as CME Group and BitMEX are seeing institutional traders drive trading volumes to records, according to a recent report from research firm Diar.

Intercontinental Exchange is planning to start testing its Bitcoin futures on July 22, catering to those customers. Cboe Global Markets Inc. stopped offering Bitcoin futures contracts in June after 18 months of trading.

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