It hasn’t been more than a month since I discussed the possibility of trading bitcoins and already two brokers have launched Bitcoin trading.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with bitcoins, let me refresh your memory! Bitcoins are a digital-only, decentralized currency developed back in 2008, and have recently become quite popular with the internet-savvy crowd because they can be used to make online purchases or direct money transfers (without fees), and can even be exchanged for real money.
Now, you can trade them online too! Just a couple of weeks ago, Plus500 became the first forex broker to offer bitcoin trading. The U.K.-based firm, which was established in 2008, offers leveraged BTC/USD trading at 4:1 with spreads of about 72 pips (ouch!).
Compared to the 50:1 leverage and 2-pip spreads offered on most major currency pairs, these conditions aren’t exactly the most appealing–but hey, it’s a start!
Coming in second in the Bitcoin trading race is spread betting company, Spreadex. The company is U.K.-regulated and also offers sports and casino betting on top of financial trading.
Remember that unlike currency trading, spread betting is mostly speculation of price action instead of actual ownership of a product. Unlike in Plus500, trading bitcoins in the form of a spread bet won’t make you an owner of bitcoins. You’re simply speculating on Bitcoin price movements.
Being one of the few companies offering bitcoin trading, Spreadex has a lot of restrictions. For one thing, you can only trade over your phone. Spreads are 2.5% apart and a leverage of 2:1 is required. Oh, and you also can’t place stop loss orders. Talk about steep prices!
The rising popularity of the virtual currency is probably why Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is hinting that the regulatory agency has its eyes on bitcoin trading. In a recent interview, CFTC head Bart Chilton said that paper Bitcoin is “not monopoly money” and that it’s something that they need to explore.
Plus500 and Spreadex are the only brokers offering Bitcoin trading for now, and I bet that they won’t be the last. In fact, my forex spies tell me that brokers like eToro are already interested in the industry. If more brokers enter the bitcoin trading arena, the additional options mean a potential for more liquidity and narrower spreads, less volatility, and an increased chance that the CFTC will get involved to protect investors from firms who don’t follow good operating practices.
We’re in the wild west of bitcoin trading, folks. Are you willing to give it a try?