Trading of Bakkt’s physically-backed bitcoin futures saw something of a slow start at launch Monday.
Minutes after the launch at 12:00 UTC, the first Bakkt/ICE futures contract changed hands at $10,115. The number of contracts in the first hour stood at just 5 total. At press time (10 or so hours later), 28 contracts had been traded, with just one at a sub-$10,000 price.
And that’s just for the monthly bitcoin contract. For the daily bitcoin contract – arguably Bakkt’s flagship product – the volume looks even more tepid.
The first such contract appears to have been traded some 18 hours after Bakkt went live, at a price of $9,975.00, according to the data feed on ICE’s website.
“I’m shocked there isn’t any volume,” said Lanre Sarumi, CEO of LevelTradingField. “I absolutely thought that contract was going to fly out of the gate. Very odd.”
By that time, trading in the monthly contract totaled 66 bitcoin.
The daily settling futures contract has been part of Bakkt’s vision from the get-go; the monthly one was added only later after ICE met delays getting regulatory approval for the platform.
Bakkt didn’t respond to several requests for comment Monday.
Some online commentators believe the slow start is a natural progression for regulated futures products.
Su Zhu, CEO and CIO of Singapore-based hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, said that most regulated futures contracts see low adoption on the first day, simply because not all futures brokers are ready to clear them.
Popular analyst Joseph Young also echoed the sentiment via a tweet arguing that volumes will rise as a brokers “get ready.”
It will be interesting to see if trading volumes pick up during the week ahead, according to market analyst Alex Kruger.
Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) registered a volume of $460 million in its first week in December 2017. So far, Bakkt futures have registered a volume of just over $280,000.
Bitcoin drops on Bakkt launch
The bitcoin market has seen no discernible boost from the launch. The spot price of bitcoin (BTC) dropped below $10,000 at 00:17 UTC near today’s open trading period.
Many observers believe Bakkt’s physically-settled futures are a game-changer and could bring in more institutional volume. Cryptocurrency analyst and trader Scott Melker in August called Bakkt futures the most bullish development in the history of bitcoin. This is due to the fact that physically delivered futures require the actual purchase of bitcoins.
That said, exactly how impactful the launch will be to the markets and crypto in general remains speculative. Moreover, a rise in trading volumes does not always lead to bullish price action – after all, futures can be utilized to create short positions.
Hence, viewing a Bakkt-driven rise in volumes as a price-bullish development could prove costly for traders.
Further, BTC suffered losses following the launch of CME and CBOE futures in December 2017, as seen in the chart below.
As can be seen, the market started its almost 90 percent from BTC’s all-time spot price high of $20,000 after the launch of bitcoin futures in late 2017.
Further, the market likely priced in the Bakkt launch in August. Back then, the futures launch announcement from the Bakkt Trust Company, a subsidiary of Bakkt Holdings – which is licensed by the State of New York to provide custody of bitcoin – stoked investor sentiment on August 17 and prices rose to $10,940.
The markets soon sobered up and a swift rejection followed, bringing a roughly 14.53 percent drawdown to $9,300 by August 29.
UPDATE (19:20 UTC): This article was updated with additional details about trading volume for Bakkt’s monthly and daily bitcoin contracts.
Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing.
Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler (center) image via CoinDesk archives; chart via Trading View