Market Spotlight – Bitcoin - A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure transactions, control creation, and verify transactions. The first such cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. In 2017, the exchanges launched a Bitcoin futures contract. The CBOE contract launched on Sunday, December 10, while the CME contract launched on Monday, December 18.
These are NOT linked to or related in any way, to the futures contracts that trade on the CME or CBOE. Not every article I have read makes this clear. So the bright side of this story is that the contracts listed and traded on U.S. exchanges were not involved. That is encouraging from both a regulatory aspect and for the future potential growth of cryptocurrency linked products in the U.S.
Changes in the laws of the United States and/or the Cayman Islands, under which the Parent Funds and the Subsidiaries are organized, respectively, could result in the inability of a Parent Fund and/or its respective Subsidiary to operate as described in this SAI and could negatively affect a Parent Fund and its shareholders. For example, the Cayman Islands does not currently impose any income, corporate or capital gains tax, estate duty, inheritance tax, gift tax or withholding tax on the Subsidiaries. If Cayman Islands law changes such that a Subsidiary must pay Cayman Islands taxes, Parent Fund shareholders would likely suffer decreased investment returns. See “Taxation” below for more information.
Since a portion of the Fund’s assets are invested in short positions in bitcoin futures contracts, the Fund will likely decline in value when the price of bitcoin futures contracts goes up (unless such losses are offset by gains in the value of the Fund’s positions in other investments), a result that is the opposite from the results of taking long positions in bitcoin futures contracts.
The promoters of these products promise traders a way to beat the market by arbitraging prices between different exchanges. Don’t believe the hype. Bitcoin exchanges often have expensive withdrawal processes and hefty fees for trading bitcoin with fiat currencies, such as dollars or euros. Also, settlement of bitcoin trades can take hours. These factors will eliminate any profits from bitcoin arbitrage and may even lead to losses.
Given the economic and environmental concerns associated with mining, various "minerless" cryptocurrencies are undergoing active development. Unlike conventional blockchains, some directed acyclic graph cryptocurrencies utilise a pay-it-forward system, whereby each account performs minimally heavy computations on two previous transactions to verify. Other cryptocurrencies like Nano utilise a block-lattice structure whereby each individual account has its own blockchain. With each account controlling its own transactions, no traditional proof-of-work mining is required, allowing for feeless, instantaneous transactions.[better source needed]
The validity of each cryptocurrency's coins is provided by a blockchain. A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way". For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.
It’s reasonable to assume that a product named a future is attempting to predict the future. For Bitcoin futures, this is definitely not what they deliver. The core utility of the futures markets is not predicting the future prices of their product but rather the secure delivery of a product at a known price, quality, and date. If there’s product seasonality (e.g., specific harvest times) or foreseeable shortages/abundances then future’s prices may reflect that but neither of these factors applies to Bitcoin.