NYSE Owner ICE Is Said to Be Working on Bitcoin Trading Platform

(Bloomberg) -- Intercontinental Exchange Inc., the owner of New York Stock Exchange, has been working on a trading platform that would let investors bet on Bitcoin, according to two people with knowledge of the project.

ICE has held talks with other financial firms about the project, which is still in development, the people said, asking not to be identified because the conversations are confidential. The project could ultimately be aborted. A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

Wall Street firms began offering clients futures from Cboe Global Markets Inc. and CME Group Inc. in December, but the financial industry has broadly shied away from selling Bitcoin itself. One issue is that virtual currencies can be stolen by hackers, a problem that has arisen before at some major crypto venues. That means traditional Wall Street firms looking to facilitate investments have to figure out how to hold such assets securely.

ICE may offer swaps to big investors that would end with the buyer owning Bitcoin the next day, the New York Times reported earlier Monday, citing four unidentified people briefed on its efforts. Such contracts would put the trading under the purview of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

In an interview last month, ICE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Sprecher declined to rule out offering contracts based on digital currencies.

“There is a trend here we can’t ignore in my mind, so I don’t discount it,” he told Bloomberg Television.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also has been working on expanding the types of contracts available to investors as it prepares to open a Bitcoin-trading business. The bank will probably trade Bitcoin futures in a principal, market-making capacity and will also create non-deliverable forward products, a person briefed on the decisions said last week.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.