CME, ICE prepare pricing data that could boost bitcoin

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) - CME Group Inc and rival Intercontinental Exchange Inc plan to publish new pricing data on bitcoin that they say will increase credibility and transparency for the controversial digital currency.

Starting in the fourth quarter, the CME aims to begin publishing bitcoin prices about once a second during trading days and a daily settlement price based on transactions from several bitcoin spot exchanges, the company said on Monday.

The owner of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and other futures markets said the data will add "significant credibility to the nascent digital asset market."

Bitcoin is a Web-based "cryptocurrency" used to move money around quickly and anonymously with no need for a central authority. Despite being championed by some as the digital money of the future, it is often dismissed as a currency that is too volatile to invest in.

The CME's pricing data "will lower uncertainty among market participants and would very likely reduce bitcoin’s traditionally high volatility" by aggregating information on transactions from multiple bitcoin markets, said Paul Chao, founder and chief executive officer of Ledger X, an institutional trading and clearing platform for bitcoin options.

The New York Stock Exchange, owned by the ICE, is evaluating whether to include data from a number of exchanges for a daily settlement price it has published since May 2015, said Dwijen Gandhi, head of indexes for the NYSE. Currently the settlement price is based only on transaction data from U.S. market Coinbase.

The NYSE also will soon launch a real-time pricing index to "provide additional transparency and insight into the bitcoin price," Gandhi said in a statement.

The CME is planning to publish its settlement price at 4 p.m. London time (1500 GMT), the same time the NYSE publishes its settlement.

The availability of more data from major exchange operators could promote the development of bitcoin derivatives contracts, said Gil Luria, a managing director for Wedbush Securities.

"The more active exchanges like CME or ICE become, the easier, the more liquid it will become for traditional investors" to trade bitcoin, he said.

The CME declined to say whether it wants to launch bitcoin futures. The ICE did not respond to a question on the matter.

Earlier on Monday, Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as the creator of bitcoin. Experts were divided over whether he really was the elusive person who has gone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto until now.

(Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York, Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Matthew Lewis and Bernard Orr)