Newly launched bitcoin futures suggest that traders expect the cryptocurrency price gains to slow in the coming months – just as the Financial Services Commission of Korea has banned securities firms from intermediating bitcoin futures transactions.
BusinessKorea reported that securities brokers in South Korea, which were preparing to introduce bitcoin futures trading to their clients, have halted the process for now in response to the ban. In addition, eBEST Investment & Securities Co. and Shinhan Financial Group canceled seminars for bitcoin futures investors scheduled for later this week.
“It is the first time for the South Korean authorities to ban trading a specific item. It seems that they made such decision worrying about if it gets out of control, as they haven’t taken a position on cryptocurrency,” said an official from the securities industry.
This news out of South Korea comes as Chicago-based derivatives exchange Cboe Global Markets launched bitcoin futures late on Sunday – the first time investors could get exposure to the bitcoin market via a large, regulated exchange.
According to Reuters, the cryptocurrency’s steep gains and rapid rise have attracted investors from around the world, but have also subjected it to intense scrutiny from government regulators.
“The bitcoin founder should be horrified seeing it rise so quickly, as any serious focus on it and its recent explosive move higher will soon end its freedom,” said John Taylor Jr., president and founder of research firm Taylor Global Vision in New York.
Bitcoin was up more than 1,600 percent so far in 2017, having started the year at less than $1,000. Taylor believes that based on his charts, bitcoin has not yet peaked, but as soon as the “up move ends, it will crash.”
Taylor is not alone in his opinion: Central bankers and critics of bitcoin have been sending out warnings over its surge in price and other risks, such as the potential for money laundering.
“It looks remarkably like a bubble forming to me,” said Grant Spencer, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s acting governor.
Bitcoin futures were already offered on some unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges outside the United States, but backers said the U.S. market debut would give it greater legitimacy and encourage its wider use.
However, several online brokerages, including Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade Holding, did not allow trading of the new futures immediately. In addition, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup would not immediately clear bitcoin trades for clients, while Goldman Sachs Group said it was planning to clear such trades for certain clients.