CME Looks to Double Bitcoin Futures Limit, but Is This Wise?

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has a new request for its regulator, as it looks to double open position limits on bitcoin futures contracts in the face of significant interest.

Nasdaq reports that the CME has already petitioned its regulatory body, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC), asking for an increase from 1000 contracts per spot month to 2000 per investor. Each contract represents five BTC, so essentially, at its peak,  a single investor's total position may edge towards a monumental 10,000 BTC.

This is in direct response to the contract's recent growth which is currently depicting record levels of activity, citing $370 million being traded per day. A spokesperson for the CME noted that the idea to increase limits was proposed on the continued maturity of the market:

Based on the significant growth and acceptance of our financially-settled CME Bitcoin futures markets, as well as our analysis of the underlying bitcoin market.

However, as Nasdaq writes the increase in the upper limit of positions is somewhat superfluous. As of July, the number of open interest contracts reached an all-time high of just 6100; given this, it seems the CME may be future-proofing.

Open to Manipulation?

However, concerns remain about the limit increase, as without them, the potential for manipulation rises; often to the detriment to the underlying asset. Although, as per the CTFC website, the threat of manipulation from bitcoin futures contracts is "low":

In general, position limits are not needed for markets where the threat of market manipulation is non-existent or very low.

Instead, Nasdaq posited that this might point to a lessening on the CTFC's strict rule of bitcoin; as well as a maturing of the market in general.

Nevertheless, some believe the CME's bitcoin futures contracts do pose a significant threat to the price of BTC; with some suggesting that blatant manipulation continues unchecked within the market.

As reported, there seems to be a correlation between the expiry dates of CME bitcoin futures contracts and a lull in the price point of BTC. In several instances, a significant drop in bitcoin's price has coincided with a closure from the CME. The most recent example of this occurred on Labor Day, September 2, when bitcoin rose an extraordinary 8% shortly after the CME shut.

Crypto analyst, Alex Kruger, highlighted this, noting the large gaps which formed on the CME chart, from the price discrepancy before and after closing.

This has become a pretty accepted practice within the market. Kruger has even gone to the lengths of compiling statistics each time this phenomenon transpired:

On these occasions, bitcoin cited an average 4.6% price discrepancy following the close of the CME.

Whether this is a coincidence or the market is indeed being actively manipulated is as yet unclear. Either way, with the increase of these limits it might be only a matter of time until we know for sure.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com

Crypto Exchange Bittrex to Return Frozen Funds to Users in Sanctioned Regions

Bittrex, a popular U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, is seemingly looking to return cryptocurrency holdings to users it had to block from its platform over international sanctions.

According to a tweet published by former user Ziya Sadr, Bittrex is now reaching out to users who reside in sanctioned nations where it’s legally unable to offer its services to send them their frozen funds.

The tweet contains a letter that details Bittrex doesn’t offer users services because of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) but has now been allowed to return users’ funds. It details:

In May of 2018, Bittrex filed an application to permit it to release the funds currently frozen back to the owners. This application was recently granted and we are writing to let you know that you may withdraw your funds to another exchange.

To get their funds back, however, users will have to create an account at a cryptocurrency exchange that isn’t located in Iran, Cuba, Crimea, Syria, or another sanctioned region, create a Bittrex support account, and fill out a form informing the exchange.

Users will only be able to receive their funds if the balance was above the withdrawal limit, which varies from crypto to crypto, but Is often above three times the transaction fee needed to move the funds using the blockchain.

To receive their funds, users will have to submit a request by March 15 of next year. How many users were affected by the sanctions and may have to ask Bittrex for their funds isn’t clear.

As CryptoGlobe covered earlier this year the exchange geofenced 32 cryptoassets for U.S. customers to comply with regulations. Last month, Bittrex’s international trading platform closed services for clients in more than 30 countries “due to regulatory uncertainty.”

Featured image via Pixabay.