ICE CEO Won’t ‘Rule Out’ Crypto Futures Launch

The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) won’t “rule out” cryptocurrency-based futures contracts.

ICE chief executive Jeffrey Sprecher discussed the issue in an interview with Bloomberg TV Monday, saying it is “early days” for the asset class, but that he could not ignore the idea of cryptocurrency futures contracts. He kept his comments vague, not discussing any particular cryptocurrencies or whether ICE has any definite plans to offer futures contacts based on them.

He added:

“I wouldn’t rule anything out … There is a trend here we can’t ignore in my mind, so I don’t discount it. People put more faith in a guy named Satoshi Nakamoto that no one has ever met than they do in the U.S. Fed.”

One of ICE’s subsidiaries – the New York Stock Exchange – has already entered the cryptocurrency space with an investment in crypto exchange Coinbase in 2015. The NYSE has further invested in a number of clearing houses, exchanges and marketplaces specializing in futures, options, swaps and other instruments. ICE recently announced that it would acquire the Chicago Stock Exchange.

The NYSE also filed to list bitcoin futures late last year, though no products have been approved for launch yet.

The firm’s rivals CME Group and Cboe Global Markets introduced futures contracts based on bitcoin prices in December, and Nasdaq is considering following suit. It is possible that contracts based on other cryptocurrencies are in the making as well. Reports in November indicated that an unknown firm going by the name “Virtuoso” was developing ether futures, and Cboe’s boss in December floated the idea of ether and bitcoin cash futures.

Sprecher likened the growing embrace of crytpocurrencies to other developments in tech – how, for example, New Yorkers are willing to hop into a car operating on a ride-sharing platform like Uber of Lyft, even though it hasn’t undergone the type of inspections and vetting as a city-certified yellow cab.

When asked again if futures were coming, Sprecher demurred, saying “I wouldn’t rule out anything around currency.”

Cryptocurrency image via Shutterstock.

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