Galen Stops looks at why demand for cryptoassets has skyrocketed in 2017 and assesses whether they have any future in mainstream financial markets.
The first working implementation of a blockchain that the world had ever seen was in the Bitcoin software released in 2009. Bitcoin the cryptocurrency then rose to prominence in 2013 when, driven in part by a flurry of media attention, its value rose past $1,000 for the first time.
Following that, 2014 represented a long and painful year of price decline for Bitcoin as an asset, but it continued to garner a lot of attention, not always for good reasons. Then in 2015 the narrative began to change as people really started talking about the potential applications of blockchain technology distinct from any digital assets.
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has issued an order granting LedgerX, an institutional trading and clearing platform for digital currencies, registration as a derivatives clearing organisation under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).
LedgerX will be the first US federally regulated exchange and clearing house for derivatives contracts settling in digital currencies.
Under the order, LedgerX will be authorised to provide clearing services for fully collateralised digital currency swaps. LedgerX, which was also granted an order of registration as a Swap Execution Facility (SEF) on July 6, 2017, initially plans to clear bitcoin options.
As P&L’s resident cryptocurrency enthusiast I'm excited by some of the developments that have occurred in this space over the past few months, because it could signal the start of these digital assets moving towards the financial mainstream.
To help explain why I think this is such an interesting time in the cryptocurrency space, I explain how I first became interested in them after joining Profit & Loss, that I refused to buy bitcoin when it was at $1,000 because "it will never go higher than this" (it's now at $4,300) and why recent regulatory developments could have significant implications for financial services firms looking at trading cryptocurrencies.
At the very start of June, Profit & Loss published an article looking at why demand for cryptocurrencies had spiked in 2017, with the price of bitcoin rising over 200% between January and the latter end of May.
Subsequent to that, demand continued to grow, with the price of bitcoin reaching $4,950 by the start of September. Meanwhile ether – the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network – went from $8.29 at the start of the year to $388 by September.