The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) announced Wednesday it will launch a futures contract on ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market value, in February 2021.

  • Ether futures will be listed on Feb. 8, more than three years after bitcoin futures went live.
  • Each contract will have 50 units of ether and the derivative product will be open to trade between 5:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m CT from Sunday to Friday, according to the official announcement.
  • The new contracts will use the CME CF ether-dollar reference rate from CF Benchmarks, the FCA-approved crypto indices provider. 
  • "Building on the success of bitcoin futures and options, CME Group will add ether futures to the cryptocurrency risk-management solutions available to trade in February," the exchange said.
  • Futures are derivative financial contracts that obligate parties to buy and sell a particular asset of a specific quantity and at a predetermined price, at a specified date in the future.
CME: Ether futures contract specifications
Source: CME
  • CME's announcement of an ether futures contract has coincided with bitcoin's much-anticipated break above $20,000.
  • The exchange rolled out bitcoin futures three years ago after the cryptocurrency reached a record price of $19,783. The derivative contracts were reportedly approved by the Trump administration to prick the bitcoin bubble.
  • However, since then, CME has steadily climbed ranks to become the third-largest bitcoin futures exchange by open interest. Many observers consider it to be synonymous with institutional trading.
  • "Today's CME news shows institutional demand continues to spill into other leading digital assets, such as Ether," CF Benchmarks CEO Sui Chung told CoinDesk in an email. "CF Benchmarks' regulated, replicable and robust indices will now act as the foundations for leading providers, like CME, to develop cryptocurrency markets fully fit for the 'institutionalization' of crypto."
  • While bitcoin is currently trading near $20,600, ether is changing hands near $600, still down 50% from record highs.
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