A series of smooth closes to these contracts over the next few months will greatly aid the transition to the potential next phase: bitcoin options. Options would add a whole new ecosphere of trading and market making, presenting another path toward respectability.
To get to options, however, traders need to see several months of smooth closes in the futures contract, as well as large open interest in the contracts, and that may be an issue. Options traders want large open interest because they will want to hedge using the futures.
And that may be the biggest problem for the path to bitcoin options: Volumes and open interest have been fairly small in both the Cboe and CME contracts.
“My sense is that they will go slowly to get to the options to get people more comfortable with the underlying product first,” JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at AmeriTrade, told me.
One thing for sure: Holding the contract from the opening to the close was a losing proposition. These contracts opened for bidding at $20,000 on Dec. 10. But on Tuesday, bitcoin was sitting right around $10,000, a fall of 50 percent.