The first-ever Bitcoin futures debuted on a major U.S. stock exchange Sunday and were an instantly hot commodity. The Chicago Board Options Exchange, which hosted the trades, reported slowed service across its website because of unexpectedly large droves of Bitcoin futures trades.
“Due to heavy traffic on our website, visitors to www.cboe.com may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable,” the exchange said in a statement shortly after Bitcoin futures trading began at 5 p.m. CST. It did not indicate that the slowed traffic had led to any disruptions in trading.
The futures contract, which expires in January, rose in the first few hours of trading from $15,460 to $16,000. Actual Bitcoins were not involved in the trades, as the CBOE’s futures are only bets what Bitcoin’s price will be on the contract’s expiration date. The contract follows the cryptocurrency’s value on the bitcoin exchange Gemini.
The cryptocurrency futures’ successful debut followed a dramatic 20% drop in Bitcoin’s value Saturday. It rallied later Saturday but still ended at $15,350—down from $16,660, its value before the drop. Analysts credited the currency’s Sunday debut on the CBOE with fueling the partial recovery.
The currency’s value is still exponentially higher than it was at the beginning of the year, when it averaged less than $1,000. It peaked December 7 at $16,858 on the Bitcoin exchange Coindesk. As of 6:25 PM CST Sunday, Coindesk listed Bitcoin’s value as $15,244.
Its presence on stock exchanges remains limited, however. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and many other Wall Street brokerages prohibit their customers from Bitcoin futures trades, only allow them for a select few clients, or strictly limit the amount of margin a trader can use in Bitcoin futures or the amounts that he or she can purchase.