CFTC Insider: Ether Futures May Soon Be Approved By Regulator

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), an independent agency of the American government that regulates the futures and options markets, may soon approve Ether (ETH) futures contracts. According to sources familiar with the matter, the CFTC could allow exchanges to offer ETH futures - provided the contracts adhere to the appropriate regulatory guidelines.

In statements reportedly shared with Coindesk, a spokesperson for the CFTC said:

I think we can get comfortable with an ether derivative being under our jurisdiction. We don’t do bold pronouncements, what we do is we look at applications before us. A derivatives exchange comes to us and says ‘we want to launch this particular product.’ … If they came to us with a particular derivative that met our requirements, I think that there’s a good chance that it would [get] self-certified by us.

Commenting on the matter, John Todaro, the Director of Digital Currency Research at Tradeblock, a provider of institutional trading tools for cryptoassets, remarked: “Many funds have mandates that do not allow them to buy the digital currency underlying.”

Todaro, a former bonds trader, added that a cash-settled futures contract which issues payouts in fiat currency, instead of the underlying cryptocurrency, would make it easier for hedge fund managers “to gain exposure to Ether.” He explained that they would not have “worry about custody (which has been a bottleneck to institutional investment).”

Todaro also noted that in the long-term, a CFTC-regulated crypto futures market “could usher in confidence among [other federal] regulators such as the [US] Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which could pave the way for a [cryptocurrency-based] exchange-traded fund (ETF).” This would add even more liquidity to the larger Ether market.

According to Todaro, an increase in institutional investments in the cryptoasset market would encourage more retail investors to enter the crypto and blockchain industry.

Notably, the launch of BTC futures contracts by the CME and Cboe received a positive response as the Cboe’s website crashed due to the large number of orders placed by traders (when the product was first introduced). Some analysts also argue that the Bitcoin price reached its all-time high of nearly $20,000 in December 2017 (partly) because of the launch of BTC futures.

CFTC Asked For More Information On Ethereum In Dec 2018

However, several analysts also believe that the introduction of Bitcoin futures may have resulted in a decline in the cryptocurrency’s price. According to Todaro, Bitcoin’s price was already headed towards an all-time high and that the launch of BTC futures (at around the same time) may not necessarily have any connection with bitcoin’s price.

In December 2018, the CFTC had revealed, for the first time, that it was looking into whether it should approve Ether futures contracts. The federal regulator had published a “Request for Input” (RFI) which consisted of several questions related to Ether’s market capitalization and Ethereum’s underlying technology.

CFTC’s questions also included those which asked about the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism which Ethereum’s network will transition to, as it currently uses the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus protocol. CFTC’s questions also asked for more information, or disclosure, regarding how Ether deposits are processed and audited.

Looking Into "Range Of Issues" That May Arise After Launching ETH Futures

Moreover, the US commodities regulator inquired specifically about the potential impact of Ether futures on the larger cryptoasset market.

George Pullen, a senior economist at the CFTC, had previously noted:

After our initial public white papers, primers, on virtual currencies, bitcoin, and smart contracts it was clear that a one-size fits all approach to crypto was not appropriate and we needed to know more.

Pullen further mentioned that the RFI would help the CFTC better understand “the range of issues that might exist” if an Ether futures contract were offered. Pullen remarked (in March 2019):

It’s critically important for us to engage in outreach to understand the variety in technologies, markets, and the differences in the community; if we’re just listening to our own voices inside the building, the loudest voices in business, or just the voices in D.C. we could miss out on the bigger picture.

In December 2017, the CME Group (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) and the Cboe (Chicago Board Options Exchange) began offering cash-settled BTC futures contracts. 

Opera Launches Blockchain, Cryptocurrency-Ready Browser for iOS

Opera Ltd., the company behind the Opera browser, has recently launched a new blockchain and cryptocurrency-ready browser for iOS, following the company’s addition of a built-in cryptocurrency wallet to its Android and PC browsers.

According to a press release shared with CryptoGlobe, the company’s Opera Touch browser for iOS features “crypto wallet integration and Web 3 support,” meaning users can interact with blockchain-based applications through it, as if they were using an extension like MetaMask. The company hinted at the move in March of this year.

The company touts it now offers browsers supporting blockchain-based applications and with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet in various operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, allowing users to “seamlessly interact with the next generation of Web 3 applications.”

Currently, the browser only supports ERC-20 tokens, stablecoins, and non-fungible tokens, although the company has revealed earlier this year it’s looking to add support for TRON and multiple other blockchains within a  year.

Charles Hamel, Opera’s head of crypto, stated:

We believe that all modern browsers should integrate a crypto wallet. This will enable new business models to emerge on the web. Opera is the first browser to make using crypto on the Web seamless and easy. Following a strong demand from the crypto-community, we are now making this experience available on iOS.

In the press release the company added it believes the “web of today will be the interface to the decentralized web of tomorrow,” with cryptocurrencies being at its forefront. Along with the iOS release, the company announced it partnered with a decentralized-application (dApp) called Marble.Cards, which allows users to turn unique web pages into collectible cards on the blockchain, each being a non-fungible token.

The Opera touch browser itself has a user interface built to let users use large phone screens with ease, as it shifts the navigation towards the bottom of the screen and adds features that make it easy to share pages across devices.

Opera’s main Android browser is also its cryptocurrency-ready browser for the operating system, and it has made it easier for users to buy cryptocurrencies directly from their mobile phones.