Were Centra's tokens securities? Well, yes, obviously. We talked last week about the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement action against Munchee, an initial coin offering vaguely similar to Centra's in that it featured "utility tokens" to be used in a blockchain ecosystem that did not yet exist, sold on promises of speculative returns. The SEC brusquely and correctly dismissed the notion that such "utility tokens" were not securities, and I suspect any court will agree. Also, while Centra occasionally remembered to call its tokens "utility-based tokens" and "not securities, shares or investments," it often forgot. From the complaint:
The Fund may invest in stocks of large-cap companies. Although returns on investments in large-cap companies are often perceived as being less volatile than the returns of companies with smaller market capitalizations, the return on large-cap securities could trail the returns on investments in smaller and mid-sized companies for a number of reasons. For example, large-cap companies may be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges, such as changes in technology, and also may not be able to attain the high growth rate of successful smaller companies.
Note that the market value of the contract fluctuates before settlement. You are not forced to hold the contract to expiration. As the spot market moves, the traded futures contract price also moves. There is a live orderbook of traders placing buy and sell orders and you are able to realize your profit or loss prior to expiration, just as if you were buying and selling a stock.
Poloniex is an asset exchange based in the US. Trading on Poloniex is secure and allows traders to explore new and trendy coins which are up for speculation. It offers high volume margin trading and lending service for major crypto assets. Reportedly, the largest user base for trading on this site comes from Russia (6.06%) and US (24.84%). A differentiating factor about the site is that it does not support fiat currency.
A Bitcoin futures contract is exactly what you would expect from the example above, replacing pork bellies with Bitcoin. It is a contract that enables you to buy Bitcoin at a predetermined price at a specific point in the future. For example, if today’s Bitcoin price is 8,000 USD per BTC and you expect it to rise to 10,000 USD per BTC in 4 weeks, then entering a contract which allows you to buy Bitcoin at 9,000 USD in 4 weeks is highly attractive.
!! WARNING !!! Note that on CryptoFacilities each contract is denominated by 1 BTC. So if you bought a fraction of BTC you can NOT perform a perfect hedge of the value. If you round the BTC you bought with start capital down, you will have slight overexposure LONG with the left-over BTC. If you round up and short an extra contract, you will have slight overexposure SHORT.