JPMorgan Strategist: Bitcoin Futures Could

‘Elevate Cryptocurrencies Into an Emerging Asset Class’

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon might consider bitcoin to be a “fraud” that “will not end well,” but one of his top strategists anticipates that the launch of bitcoin futures could turn cryptocurrencies into “an emerging asset class.”

As reported by CNBC, Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, a global markets strategist at JPMorgan, said Friday that the addition of bitcoin futures contracts to regulated trading platforms will lend credibility to cryptocurrency, making it more appealing to both institutional and retail investors.

“The prospective launch of bitcoin futures contracts by established exchanges in particular has the potential to add legitimacy and thus increase the appeal of the cryptocurrency market to both retail and institutional investors,” Panigirtzoglou said in a report.

This prediction is no longer just a mere hypothetical. Following months of anticipation, Chicago derivatives exchange CME revealed Friday that it had received CFTC approval to begin trading bitcoin futures on December 18. In a separate announcement, fellow Chicago trading platform CBOE stated that it had filed a product certification for a bitcoin futures product with the CFTC. Nasdaq Inc. and Cantor are also reportedly planning to launch bitcoin derivatives.

Although the futures will be cash-settled — meaning that no actual bitcoins will change hands during any part of the transaction — several mainstream financial analysts believe that the presence of bitcoin-derived products on regulated exchanges will ultimately reduce the volatility of the underlying markets and help the nascent asset class to mature into a regular financial instrument.

Panigirtzoglou agrees, stating that — even though bitcoin is trading at a near-record level following a yearlong uptrend — “cryptocurrencies have the potential to grow further from here.”

“In all, the prospective introduction of bitcoin futures has the potential to elevate cryptocurrencies to an emerging asset class,” Panigirtzoglou said. “The value of this new asset class is a function of the breadth of its acceptance as a store of wealth and as a means of payment and simply judging by other stores of wealth such as gold, cryptocurrencies have the potential to grow further from here.”

That JPMorgan would publish a report so openly favorable to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is unexpected, given the hostile stance that its chief executive has taken on bitcoin in recent months. In addition to calling it a fraud, Dimon lobbed insults at “stupid” bitcoin investors and threatened to fire any employee caught trading cryptocurrency.

Nevertheless, the firm has been quietly considering offering its clients access to bitcoin futures following their launch on CME, particularly given bitcoin’s recent explosion into the mainstream financial discussion. Dimon, however, has yet to make a public comment on the matter.

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