He also predicted that the cryptocurrency will go mainstream in 2018 and become part of “strategic reserves” and “asset allocation models” around the world. More consumers will also likely pay for goods and services with bitcoin, he predicted.
Jones Day’s Obie agreed that bitcoin will become more mainstream and an entirely new asset class may emerge in the investor community. He referred to the string of announcements from the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Nasdaq to offer bitcoin futures contracts.
“I think you’re seeing mainstream regulated exchanges looking at whether bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are asset classes in and of themselves,” said Obie. “Clearly there are people that would like exposure to this.”
In July, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates the futures and option markets, approved a swap execution facility for cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, investors are also waiting to see if the SEC will eventually approve the creation of a bitcoin ETF. The existence of bitcoin futures contracts could increase confidence for the regulator to give its approval, Obie said.
“Having a futures market with price discovery will enable the SEC to get comfortable that there is a regulated market, where pricing is showing,” he said. “I think you’re seeing the development of a fourth asset class.”