Bitcoin smashes through $6,600 to new record high after CME announces plans for futures contracts

>The price of bitcoin surpassed the $6,500 and $6,600 barrier in one day to hit a new record high
>The move higher was boosted after the CME announced plans to launch bitcoin futures
>CME’s plans could bring more institutional investors into the bitcoin market.

Bitcoin surpassed $6,500 and $6,600 on Wednesday to hit a new record high after the CME announced plans to launch bitcoin futures later this year.

The price of the cryptocurrency hit a high of $6,600.84 just hours after breaking through the $6,400 barrier, and minute after moving past the $6,500 mark, according to data from industry website CoinDesk. Its market capitalization, or the total value of bitcoin in circulation, hit $110 billion.

On Tuesday, U.S.-based exchange CME said it would introduce bitcoin futures contracts this quarter, subject to regulatory approval.

“We’ve been working with the regulator. They understand our application. And they understand our model very, very well,” Terry Duffy, CME Group chairman and CEO, told CNBC.

The introduction of such a product could bring more institutional investors into the market. It’s believed that this is helping to boost the price.

The bitcoin futures contract will be cash-settled and based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR), which CME launched in November 2016 with London-based digital trading platform Crypto Facilities. The reference rate is a daily settlement price published at 4 p.m. London time, currently noon ET.

Favorable regulation has often been a catalyst for the bitcoin price to rise. For example, bitcoin saw a boost when Japanese authorities allowed shops to begin accepting bitcoin as payment earlier this year.

Still, digital currencies have also got their fair share of criticism. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has called bitcoin a “fraud” and threatened to fire anyone in his company that trades it. Meanwhile Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, called bitcoin an “index of money laundering.”

Some regulators have also cracked down on bitcoin trading. China recently banned crytocurrency exchanges, for example.

But the negative news has been mostly shrugged off by investors. Bitcoin is up over 500 percent year-to-date.

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