There are two USA regulated Bitcoin futures exchanges in operation. The CME’s contract unit is five Bitcoins whereas the Cboe’s contract unit is one—that’s the biggest difference between these futures. The upfront money to buy or sell short a CME contract will be about five times higher than the Cboe contract. Larger investors won’t care but this will be an issue for smaller investors. Another difference is the spot/settlement process that the exchanges use. In the case of Cboe futures, the contracts will be settled to a 4 pm ET Gemini exchange auction price on the day of expiration, for the CME futures the settlement price is a complex calculation using an hour of volume weighted data from multiple exchanges (currently Bitstamp, itBit, Kraken, and GDAX). With the CME’s approach, it will be harder to manipulate the settlement price but it doesn’t give arbitrageurs a physical mechanism to trade their positions—possibly an issue.
Many institutional investors are wise to use the futures contracts to lower the Bitcoin price to buy in lower by setting the stop-loss triggers at support levels to push down the price further and further to make it look like a crash. This scares novice investors to support the bears and sell to avoid a total loss. By taking this strategy, the Wall Street investors are strategically pushing down the price for in order to re-enter at much lower levels and potentially set Bitcoin up for another rocket rise to unprecedented highs. Then, assumingly, collect profits and repeat the cycle, increasing profits each time Bitcoin rises and falls.
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expect that the futures exchanges, through information sharing agreements, will be monitoring the trading activity on the relevant cash platforms for potential impacts on the futures contracts’ price discovery process, including potential market manipulation and market dislocations due to flash rallies and crashes and trading outages. Nevertheless, investors should be aware of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts . . . it is incumbent on market participants to conduct appropriate due diligence to determine the particular appropriateness of these products, which at times have exhibited extreme volatility and unique risks.”
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•   Liquidity Risk — In certain circumstances, such as the disruption of the orderly markets for the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests, the Fund might not be able to acquire or dispose of certain holdings quickly or at prices that represent true market value in the judgment of ProShare Advisors. Markets may be disrupted by a number of events, including but not limited to cyber-attacks, economic crises, natural disasters, new legislation, or regulatory changes inside or outside the U.S.
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There's a lot of ins and outs which can get confusing in arbitrage trading. We won't go into the technicals of why futures contracts trade at a premium to spot price. You can read a full explanation here. If it's not of interest to you, all you need to know is that there's a tendency, the further out in time the futures contract expires, for the premium to spot to be higher and higher in nominal percentage terms.
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