New cryptocurrency futures exchange CoinFlex, which claims to be the world’s first exchange that offers physical delivery for bitcoin futures contracts, wants to ramp up business from Asian retail investors who want to avoid falling victim to price manipulation that it says is rampant in cash-settlement contracts.
Mark Lamb, Hong Kong-based chief executive of the company, said contracts that physically deliver bitcoin and other tokens at settlement will benefit traders, who can be certain the spot and futures prices have not been manipulated and that they closely track the spot bitcoin price. This is because cash-settlement contracts, whose price is often calculated using a formula based on the spot bitcoin prices of other exchanges, can be easily manipulated.
“Professional and retail traders alike are affected by price manipulation in the cash settled futures market. In physical delivered contracts, anyone long at expiry receives the underlying bitcoin. There are no formulas involved,” Lamb said.
He did not comment when asked if CoinFlex was offering services to Hong Kong-based customers. The city’s Securities and Futures Commission proposed a regulatory framework on cryptocurrency exchanges in November 2018, and has said it was unlikely to grant licences to exchanges that offered the trading of futures and derivative contracts.
Lamb said he had seen an increase in attempts to manipulate prices over the past few months, by traders who moved the underlying spot prices that go into the formula in their favour, as they took advantage of the thinner trading volume of the cryptocurrency spot market compared with that of futures. Currently, the trading volume of bitcoin futures is 1.5 times that of spot.