Bitcoin futures surged on their first day of trading and extended gains into Monday, taking spot prices for digital currencies higher as exchange regulators halted dealing twice in order to tame market volatility.
The maiden futures contract, which settles for cash on Jan. 18, opened at a price of $15,460 and promptly fell $40 each until prices rebounded to as high as $18,850, according to CBOE data, before fading modestly to $17,54 by 06:50 eastern time with 2,785 contracts changing hands. Futures for delivery in February were last priced at $18,880 while those for March were seen $2,610 higher from their opening price at $19,040 each. Spot bitcoin prices on the bitsmap exchange in Luxembourg were also trading higher, reaching a 24-hour high of $16,570 each.
The early trading surge on the CBOE resulted in two trading suspensions -- for two and five minutes each -- in order to slow price gains that reached 25% in the opening hours of dealing, while a spike in traffic to the exchange compelled officials to warn that its site "may be temporarily unavailable" owing to heavy visitor volumes.
XBT futures are cash-settled contracts based on Gemini's auction price for bitcoin, denominated in U.S. dollars. Gemini is the virtual currency exchange founded by twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are known as the iconic Bitcoin Billionaires.
According to Gemini, the XBT futures will cash-settle on the third Wednesday of the month. The final settlement value (XBTS) will reflect the Gemini 4:00 p.m. EST daily bitcoin auction price.
The launch was not without its detractors, however, as central bank governors continued to caution of the risks to individual investors amid the global cryptocurrency craze.
Acting Bank of New Zealand Governor Grant Spencer told state broadcaster TVNZ that bitcoins look like "a classic bubble" not that, "with a bubble you never know how far it is going to go before it comes around."