Major American retail brokerage firm TD Ameritrade has launched Bitcoin (BTC) futures trading.
According to the firm’s updated website on July 23, the BTC futures products are available on both TD Ameritrade’s electronic trading platform Thinkorswim and its Mobile Trader App.
TD Ameritrade users must have at least $25,000
TD Ameritrade’s Q2 2019 fiscal results revealed that it provides investing services for 11 million client accounts totalling roughly $1.3 trillion in assets.
Its announcement indicated that interested clients must have the permissions and funding requirements to be granted general futures approval on their accounts before they will be able to access the new Bitcoin product.
The Bitcoin contracts on offer from Ameritrade come via the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), which has been listing BTC futures since winter 2017.
Today’s announcement confirms that Ameritrade clients will be held to a 1.5x higher margin requirement than on CME, alongside an account minimum of $25,000.
Prospective Ameritrade BTC futures traders are also required to receive two investor advisories — one from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and another from the National Futures Association (NFA). Both of these, the site outlines, are educational materials designed to inform customers of the possible risks of trading virtual currencies.
Regulated exposure to a trailblazing asset class
Industry commentators such as eToro analyst Mati Greenspan have today hailed the company’s futures launch, remarking that “the floor gates to BTC are now officially open.”
Ameritrade itself notes that while Bitcoin futures “still carry unique and often significant risks, they can potentially provide a more regulated and stable environment to provide some exposure to bitcoin as a commodity as well.” The company also notably clarifies that:
“At this time, TD Ameritrade does not provide the ability to trade or hold bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies directly in TD Ameritrade accounts, and does not provide access to bitcoin/cryptocurrency exchange networks. We offer the ability to trade bitcoin futures contracts, much like we offer futures contracts for gold, corn, crude oil, etc.”
As reported just yesterday, Bakkt — the long-awaited Bitcoin (BTC) futures platform from New York Stock Exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange — has officially begun testing the delivery of its BTC futures.
Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures are to be physically delivered via a process called “warehousing” and have faced multiple delays as regulators — including the CFTC — investigated the platform’s compliance procedures and the offering’s prospective impact on markets.
This June, CME reported that open interest in its BTC futures contracts had hit an all-time high.