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Bob's transaction confirms first so he goes on BFE and looks at the contract selections. He wants to trade on the January 9 expiration contract. The orderbook is empty and Bob wants to go long (profit off an increase in bitcoin). Since there are no offers available, he places a limit order in the orderbook for a bid at 400 of 1 contract, using his 0.2btc as collateral for the position.
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Since the introduction of futures, the price of bitcoin has gone up, suggesting that there were more As -- people who wanted to be long bitcoin synthetically -- than Cs -- people who wanted to be short synthetically -- though again it is still early. Crudely speaking, the arbitrage spread suggests that there are also more As than Bs: There are a lot of people who want to be long bitcoin without owning bitcoin, but not so many people who want to own bitcoin without being long bitcoin. (Which makes sense! If you bought a bitcoin and sold a futures contract when Cboe launched its futures last week, you could have locked in a risk-free arbitrage profit of something like $1,200. But if you had just bought a bitcoin, you'd be up about $3,000 by now.) The costs of trading actual bitcoins on bitcoin exchanges -- in terms of blockchain transaction costs, exchange withdrawal limits, etc. -- are significant enough that people who want bitcoin exposure are willing to pay about 2 percent to avoid them.
If you want to do scalping, then shorter-term expiree contracts that settle really soon would be fine. Keep in mind, the normal state of futures markets is "contango", which means that longer dated contracts will have a premium to the current spot rate, to reflect the interest rate differential and time preference. This means you will see Weeklies maybe with a $1-2 preium and Quarterlies (assuming they expire months from now) with a $5-8 premium. As an example we have Quarterlies contracts right now at OKCoin that settle on December 25. So we're just starting December now, that means that even though these are "Quarterlies" contracts by classification, they are expiring not 3 months from now, but 1 month from now. Don't mix up the settlement expiration date with the naming convention.
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• Futures Position Limit Risk — Limits on the amount of futures any one entity can hold may negatively impact the Fund’s ability to meet its investment objective if such limits are reached and exceptions to such limits are not granted. Currently the position limits for bitcoin futures contracts are much lower than they are for most other futures contracts.
Futures contracts expire on a designated date, referred to as the “expiration date.” Each Fund typically will invest in “lead month” contracts. Lead month contracts are the monthly contracts with the earliest expiration date. Bitcoin futures contracts listed on the CBOE Futures Exchange (“CFE”) or Chicago Mercantile Exchange (“CME”) will be cash settled on their expiration date unless they are “rolled” prior to expiration. Each Fund generally intends to “roll” its bitcoin futures contracts prior to expiration to the next “nearby” bitcoin futures contract. The “nearby” contracts are those contracts with the next closest expiration date. The Funds will incur the costs (or benefits) of continually rolling into the new lead month contracts.
Cryptocurrency is also used in controversial settings in the form of online black markets, such as Silk Road. The original Silk Road was shut down in October 2013 and there have been two more versions in use since then. In the year following the initial shutdown of Silk Road, the number of prominent dark markets increased from four to twelve, while the amount of drug listings increased from 18,000 to 32,000.
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On May 7, 2014, the SEC published an investor alert that highlighted fraud and other concerns relating to certain investment opportunities denominated in bitcoin and fraudulent and unregistered investment schemes targeted at participants in online bitcoin forums. On July 25, 2017, the SEC issued a Report of Investigation or Report which concluded that digital assets or tokens issued for the purpose of raising funds may be securities within the meaning of the federal securities laws. The Report emphasized that whether a digital asset is a security is based on the particular facts and circumstances, including the economic realities of the transactions. This was reiterated in a December 11, 2017 Public Statement emphasizing the risks of investing in digital assets such as bitcoin and noting the possibility that bitcoin and other digital assets may be deemed to be securities. The SEC continues to take action against persons or entities misusing bitcoin in connection with fraudulent schemes (i.e., Ponzi scheme), inaccurate and inadequate publicly disseminated information, and the offering of unregistered securities.
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Two members of the Silk Road Task Force—a multi-agency federal task force that carried out the U.S. investigation of Silk Road—seized bitcoins for their own use in the course of the investigation. DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV, who attempted to extort Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht ("Dread Pirate Roberts"), pleaded guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, and extortion under color of official right, and was sentenced to 6.5 years in federal prison. U.S. Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges pleaded guilty to crimes relating to his diversion of $800,000 worth of bitcoins to his personal account during the investigation, and also separately pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with another cryptocurrency theft; he was sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison.
Under normal market conditions, each Fund intends to invest substantially all of its assets in Benchmark Futures Contracts. The contractual obligations of a buyer or seller holding a futures contract to expiration may be satisfied by settling in cash as designated in the contract specifications. Alternatively, futures contracts may be closed out prior to expiration by making an offsetting sale or purchase of an identical futures contract on the same or linked exchange before the designated date of settlement. Once this date is reached, the futures contract “expires.” The Funds do not intend to hold bitcoin futures contracts through expiration, but instead to “roll” their respective positions. “Rolling” refers to a process whereby futures contracts nearing expiration are closed out and replaced with an identical futures contract with a later expiration date. Accordingly, the Funds are subjects to risks related to rolling.
The first decentralized cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was created in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It used SHA-256, a cryptographic hash function, as its proof-of-work scheme. In April 2011, Namecoin was created as an attempt at forming a decentralized DNS, which would make internet censorship very difficult. Soon after, in October 2011, Litecoin was released. It was the first successful cryptocurrency to use scrypt as its hash function instead of SHA-256. Another notable cryptocurrency, Peercoin was the first to use a proof-of-work/proof-of-stake hybrid. IOTA was the first cryptocurrency not based on a blockchain, and instead uses the Tangle. Many other cryptocurrencies have been created though few have been successful, as they have brought little in the way of technical innovation. On 6 August 2014, the UK announced its Treasury had been commissioned to do a study of cryptocurrencies, and what role, if any, they can play in the UK economy. The study was also to report on whether regulation should be considered.
As for why you should buy a put option instead of the asset itself, the answer is simple. By buying the asset itself, you can never profit from falling prices. With put options you can, simply because their value rises as the price of the underlying stock is falling. In addition to this feature, they offer the same kind of potential for leverage that calls options do, as described above. The price of put options is calculated in a similar manner, but with the important difference being that the intrinsic value is calculated as a predetermined price of the option minus the current market price of the asset – not the other way round as is the case for call options.