Fluctuations in the price of bitcoin have not affected overall interest in futures tied to the cryptocurrency, a TD Ameritrade executive said on Tuesday.

“We get calls, emails, 60,000 clients have traded something in this complex,” Steven Quirk, TD Ameritrade executive vice president, remarked during a panel at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2019. As Quirk said later: "As soon as you open the door, you're going to get a lot of people" looking to participate in the market.

He also noted that attendance has been “off the charts” at the bitcoin education events facilitated by the company, and that this intense interest isn’t just from millennials, but older retail investors too. Likewise, TD Ameritrade has found that investment advisors (RIAs) are equally interested in bitcoin futures as the company’s ‘pure retail’ clients.

Quirk and fellow panelist Thomas Chippas, CEO of exchange ErisX (which TD Ameritrade has invested in) also commented on institutional investors, which, perhaps despite popular perception, they claimed are already investing in bitcoin.

“Apologies it’s not happening faster,” Chippas said in a nod to skeptics, but “it’s happening, it’s never going to be fast enough for the people who write headlines.”

Quirk also gave credence to the idea that institutional investors are waiting for an ETF to emerge before they invest in bitcoin. “We hear that quite a bit,” he confirmed.

Quirk and Chippas further commented that there is demand for physically settled bitcoin futures, which, because they would be based on an underlying commodity and not be cash settled, would enable traditional risk management tools to “function better.”

As for their outlook on the future of digital assets, Quirk compared the current market to the dot com bubble of the 1990s. While the bubble ultimately burst, successful companies like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FAANG) emerged.

“The second iteration of this could look just like the FAANG complex,” Quirk predicted.

From left: ErisX's Thomas Chippas, TD Ameritrade's Steven Quirk and CoinDesk's Noelle Acheson, image by Anna Baydakova for CoinDesk

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