Futures Industry Association Blasts New Bitcoin Derivatives

In an open letter to the CFTC, Futures Trading Association CEO Walt Lukken has expressed concerns about who would insure bitcoin futures contracts.

Dec 7, 2017 at 4:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:14 a.m. UTC

Days after CME Group and the CBOE announced their bitcoin futures contracts launch dates, U.S. clearinghouses are expressing concerns over how these products were developed.

In an open letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Futures Industry Association (FIA) chief executive Walt Lukken said members of the organization are worried about their exposure to bitcoin's price swings as a result of these contracts. The group boasts more than 15,000 members and counts some of Wall Street's biggest institutions among its ranks.

"The recent volatility in these markets has underscored the importance of setting these levels and processes appropriately and conservatively," Lukken wrote.

Members of the FIA guarantee customers' trades and contribute to guarantee funds set up to cover instances where a company is unable to pay out its contracts.

In the letter, Lukken said FIA members are concerned that they will have to pay for any outstanding contracts caused by price changes in bitcoin, rather than the groups which are actually selling the futures products.

He wrote:

"A public discussion should have been had on whether a separate guarantee fund for this product was appropriate or whether exchanges put additional capital in front of the clearing member guarantee fund."

Lukken continued to note that, while CME and CBOE technically followed legal procedures detailing self-certified contracts, they should have taken a more extended approach due to bitcoin futures not being a standard product.

A public discussion would have allowed FIA members to conduct tests of their own in anticipation of insuring these contracts, he argued.

"We remain apprehensive with the lack of transparency and regulation of the underlying reference products on which these futures contracts are based," he wrote, also asking whether the companies offering the products can protect their customers from "manipulation, fraud, and operational risk."

Disclosure: CME Group is an investor in Digital Currency Group, CoinDesk's parent company. 

CBOE image via Shutterstock

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