Customers of E*TRADE must have a futures-enabled account in order to submit trades and according to contract specifications, E*TRADE's margin requirement is 80 percent of the notional value of the contract.
In a small-print disclaimer, the company warns, "These products involve a high level of risk for all investors. You should carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your circumstances and financial resources. Please visit NFA and CFTC for additional information regarding the risks relating to these products."
Earlier, this week, TD Ameritrade also added support for the trading of CBOE bitcoin futures. Thus far, it appears that neither TD Ameritrade nor E*TRADE has begun supporting bitcoin futures offered by the CME Group.
When ETHNews spoke to representatives from TD Ameritrade, they expressed that the company will monitor the liquidity and trading of CME bitcoin futures before deciding whether to offer service. E*TRADE has yet to return our request for comment on the matter.
In addition to being introduced later than CBOE's bitcoin futures, CME's bitcoin futures may face a tougher path to online brokerages because the structure of their contract (based on five bitcoins) might be too expensive for retail investors. It's unclear whether platforms would be willing to take on that level of risk and whether customers are interested in that magnitude of trade. Perhaps the CME product is better suited for institutional traders.
Further complicating the issue, the CME Group's president of clearing and post-trade services, Kim Taylor, recently announced her retirement – though it's uncertain whether she played a role in the product's development or rollout.
Even as bitcoin futures reach a wider audience, bitcoin itself might be stumbling after a surge in the price of bitcoin cash (BCH). It's difficult to assess the price relationship between BCH and BTC, but if the competing digital currency receives market legitimacy, that could dampen the price of bitcoin.