US agency gives green light to trade bitcoin on major exchanges

New York - A US regulator cleared the way Friday for bitcoin futures to trade on major exchanges, but warned investors the digital currency is prone to elevated risk and volatility.

The decision opens the door for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and CBOE Futures Exchange to offer contracts for futures of the virtual currency, rather than trading the actual currency.

The deal with the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission agency also enables Cantor Exchange to offer bitcoin options, another type of derivative contract, which allows for trading without taking ownership of an underlying asset.

CFTC chair J. Christopher Giancarlo said after "extensive discussions with the exchanges" they "agreed to significant enhancements to protect customers and maintain orderly markets."

The agency said the exchanges agreed to modify the derivatives contracts and promised to coordinate with the CFTC and each other to guard against market manipulation and other irregularities.

READ: Bitcoin now bigger than Buffett, Boeing and New Zealand's GDP

"Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the Commission has dealt with in the past," he said in a statement, warning that "investors should be aware of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts."

The agreement with the exchanges does not mean the CFTC endorses the digital currency or the various trading products, he said.

The announcement comes a day after a Federal Reserve governor Randal Quarles, the Fed's vice chair of banking regulation, warned that digital currencies like bitcoin could pose a threat to financial stability as they gain wider use because of the uncertainty of how they would fare during a crisis.

Bitcoin prices shot above $10,000 for the first time earlier this week and stood at $10,648 at midday Friday.

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