The biggest thing on the launch pad this year is the Bakkt crypto exchange which is currently in a holding pattern while US government employees twiddle their thumbs during Trump’s shutdown. Several other contenders are hopeful about Ethereum futures but according to one crypto exchange boss they are unlikely to be seen soon.
Regulatory Concerns Mounting
According to Paul Chou, chief executive officer of LedgerX, odds of an Ethereum derivative product launching in 2019 are 50-50 at best. The company is one of several which already have Ethereum options ready to trade. But just like Bakkt it is currently in the queue waiting for the CFTC to wake up from the prolonged government shutdown.
According to The Block regulators still don’t really understand Ethereum and are waiting for a ‘request for input’ which solicits information from market participants; “The RFI seeks to understand similarities and distinctions between certain virtual currencies, including here ether and bitcoin, as well as ether-specific opportunities, challenges, and risks,”
In addition to LedgerX are ErisX and Seed CX which also have Ethereum based derivatives on offer. CBoE Global Markets, which was one of the first to get Bitcoin futures off the ground in late 2017, also has an Ethereum product but is doubtful that regulatory approval will come soon.
Former fintech adviser to the CFTC, Jeff Bandman, said “They understand what a proof of work network is like because that’s how bitcoin works, but proof of stake raises new questions. Specifically, what are the risks?” He added that once the agency has gained more knowledge on the product it could start to deliberate in the first half of 2019 … providing the government shutdown comes to an end.
The Casper update will usher in proof of stake for Ethereum and change the landscape entirely, at least in the eyes of the CFTC. The delayed Constantinople update which was due yesterday is a preliminary step for a shift from PoW to PoS for the network. Crypto attorney Nelson Rosario told The Block;
“There is a lot of uncertainty, regulators see this and they think ‘what exactly are we giving you permission to sell a futures product on’,” with one industry insider adding “Staking mimics a derivative product. If you are holding ether as a stake than you are essentially betting it will go up and if you are not you are effectively betting it will go down, at worst, or at best you don’t want it sitting on the network. If you have a future on top of that then you are adding a level of complexity that developers have not worked through,”
The shift in consensus for Ethereum has been heralded as the biggest progression for the network but from a regulatory perspective it could be another big headache.
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