SEC Denies for the Second Time a Proposal for a Bitcoin Exchange-Trade Product

On July 26, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) issued an order, by a 3-1 vote, disapproving a proposed rule change (the “Proposal”) that would have allowed for a bitcoin exchange-traded product (“ETP”) (the “Order”).  In the Order, the SEC re-asserted many of its prior concerns and reasons for denying the same proposal for a bitcoin ETP back in March 2017. Continue Reading

SEC Requests Comment on Bitcoin Futures ETFs

On March 23, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an order instituting proceedings to determine whether it will approve or disapprove a proposal for Bitcoin futures exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) (the “Order”).  In December 2017, NYSE Arca, Inc. filed a rule change proposal to allow for the creation of ETFs that invest in Bitcoin futures contracts and potentially other Bitcoin related investments.  In January 2018, the SEC extended its review of the proposal, and with the Order, it now has instituted formal review proceedings and is seeking public comment.  Continue Reading

Bitcoin Futures Volatility and Total Volume Since the Start of 2018

According to recent data provided by CBOE and CME Group, the volatility and total volume of bitcoin futures in 2018 have been in a gradual decline.  As displayed in the chart below, the Cboe bitcoin futures contract (XBT) volatility for the lead month declined in each month to begin 2018.  In addition, according to data as of a May 22, 2018 trading date, the trading volume for CME bitcoin futures contracts (BTC) in prospective lead months is also low, with as few as 5 trades for September 2018 contracts.  There have been a few instances of volume surges such as in late April when the average daily volume of XBT rose to 8800 in the single-most active session of the CBOE Global Market, according to CBOE.  However, as shown in the final chart below with data from CME Group as of May 22, 2018, the daily exchange volume of bitcoin futures contracts has remained below 6000 for the last month with one exception. Continue Reading

The Fed’s Repo Rates Are Here

On April 3, 2018 the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“Fed”) started publishing its three repo rates: the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), the Broad General Collateral Rate (BGCR) and the Tri-Party General Collateral Rate (TGCR). For an overview of differences between the composition of each of the rates please refer to our prior post.

Previously, in March, the Fed released “a time series of the volume-weighted mean rate of the primary dealer’s overnight Treasury general collateral repo activity. . .” which it calculated from its surveys of the primary dealers. The Fed also released indicative historical rates for the SOFR rate going back to August 2014. It also indicated it was going to investigate providing a longer historical period for the SOFR rate. The historical data appears to be a response to comments received during the request for comment phase where three commenters requested historical data for SOFR in order to assist market participants in structuring margin requirements on derivative instruments that reference SOFR and assist in comparisons to other benchmarks. Continue Reading

Understanding Cryptocurrencies in Asset Management Forum held in New York, materials now available

On January 18th, Perkins Coie LLP held a forum entitled Understanding Cryptocurrencies in Asset Management in its New York office.  This forum covered how cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are affecting the asset management industry with specifics on:

  • Investing in Bitcoin futures and other crypto-derivatives
  • Emerging crypto indices
  • Overview of product development including Bitcoin ETFs and cryptocurrencies as an asset class
  • The use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) in processing and trading of securities and derivatives

Speakers included Andrew Cross, Partner, Perkins Coie, Todd Zerega, Partner, Perkins Coie and Dana Syracuse, Counsel, Perkins Coie.

The presentation is now available here. For further information, please contact one of the speakers.

CFTC Virtual Currency Proposed Interpretation – Part 2

By Andrew P. Cross, Laurie Rosini, and Thomas Ahmadifar

On December 15, 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) issued a proposed interpretation of the term “actual delivery” as used in the provision of the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”) that grants the CFTC explicit authority to oversee the marketplace for “retail commodity transactions.”  This is the second blog posting in a multi-part series (read Part 1 here) that will explore the regulation of retail commodity transactions and the CFTC’s recent proposed interpretation (the “Proposed Interpretation”), the issuance of which we believe represents a potentially significant milestone in the regulation of virtual currency transactions.  We continue our series with an examination of the Proposed Interpretation and its examples for what may constitute “actual delivery” of virtual currency.

Retail Commodity Transactions under Section 2(c)(2)(D)

As we explain in greater detail in Part 1, the CFTC has exclusive jurisdiction over the marketplace for “retail commodity transactions,” arrangements that Section 2(c)(2)(D) of the CEA describes as an agreement, contract, or transaction that is offered or entered into by a party:

  • On a leveraged or margined basis, or financed by the offeror, the counterparty, or a person acting in concert with the offeror or counterparty on a similar basis; and
  • To or with persons who do not qualify as either an eligible contract participant (“ECP”) or an eligible commercial entity (“ECE”).

Continue Reading

Retail Commodity Transactions Involving Virtual Currencies: An Overview of the CFTC’s Proposed Interpretation (Part 1)

On December 15, 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) issued a proposed interpretation of the term “actual delivery” as used in the provision of the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”) that grants the CFTC explicit authority to oversee the marketplace for “retail commodity transactions”.  This is the first blog posting in a multi-part series that will explore the regulation of retail commodity transactions and the CFTC’s recent proposed interpretation (the “Proposed Interpretation”), the issuance of which we believe has represents a potentially significant milestone in the regulation of virtual currency transactions.  We begin our series with a brief look at the history and background of the regulation of retail commodity transactions. Continue Reading

CBOE and CME Self-Certify Bitcoin Futures, Cantor Self-Certifies Bitcoin Binary Options and NFA Issues Investor Alert

It was a busy morning at the intersection of derivatives and virtual currencies.  Here is an overview of what happened and some thoughts about what it means for the world of virtual currencies. Continue Reading

CFTC Commissioner Quintenz Addresses ISDA’s Unlocking Value in Derivatives Markets Conference in London

Earlier today, CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz spoke at a conference hosted by ISDA in London.  His remarks focused on the central theme of  that conference – the power of technology to transform financial markets.  In this posting, we will provide highlights from Commissioner Quintenz’s speech, as we believe that this speech addresses several key concepts related to FinTech initiatives in the derivatives markets. Continue Reading

Tri-Party Repo Data: October 2017

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) released the monthly statistics of the U.S. tri-party repo market for October 2017.

Tri-party repo statistics are available on a consolidated basis through the FRBNY’s tri-party repo interactive tool (available here) and master excel data file (current version here and click on Downloads).  Continue Reading

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