Argentina’s largest futures market is getting ready to dip its toes into the bitcoin ecosystem.
As Bloomberg reports, the Mercado de Termino de Rosario — more commonly known as Rofex — is preparing to formally announce the addition of digital currency services to its platform. Following months of conversations, Rofex executives have created a preliminary framework that reportedly includes custody services, as well as the ability for clients to stake bitcoin as collateral for futures contracts. The formal announcement is expected to come by the end of the year.
Rofex is the second American futures market to reveal this week that it intends to begin engaging with the burgeoning crypto economy. U.S. exchange operator CME Group announced this week that it would become the first regulated U.S. exchange to offer bitcoin futures, but the Rofex proposal stops short of short of adding bitcoin futures contracts.
“I would clearly like to do bitcoins futures, because it’s our core business,” Rofex head Diego Fernandez told Bloomberg. However, that does not appear likely to happen in the near future, because the contracts would have to be approved by the National Securities Commission (CNV), the country’s regulatory agency, “and this involves a longer process and the need to build an index or a reference value.”
CME had laid that groundwork last year through the creation of its proprietary bitcoin price index, so executives believe they will receive prompt regulatory approval. For Rofex, the process will begin with the launch of its digital currency custodial and collateral services, potentially as soon as next year.
In any case, the announcement that Rofex will begin offering digital currency services to its clients is a significant step forward for bitcoin adoption in Argentina, a country that has suffered under tight currency controls and rampant inflation. Many Argentinians have turned to bitcoin as a way to escape the debasement of the Argentine peso, and peer-to-peer trading volume has steadily increased since 2014.
This phenomenon is not localized to Argentina. Bitcoin has become a lifeline for many people in unstable financial markets across the world. In Zimbabwe, for example, demand for bitcoin so far exceeds supply that it is trading at nearly double the global average price. The bitcoin price reached a new all-time high of $13,900 in Zimbabwe on Friday, according to data from Harare-based exchange Golix.
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