Cryptocurrency is still a nascent asset class. The majority of people who buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are individual investors and traders. There are signs that institutional investors -- such as hedge funds, pension funds, and university endowments -- are beginning to enter the crypto arena. But before these large professional investors can allocate significant sums of capital to cryptoassets, certain aspects of market and regulatory infrastructure must be in place.
Additionally, the promise of bitcoin has long been that of a borderless, global currency. Yet the popular cryptocurrency is still a long way from fulfilling this bold vision.
Read on to learn about two recent developments by businesses seeking to address these challenges.
Square rolls out Bitcoin deposits
Square (NYSE:SQ) is enabling Bitcoin deposits on its Cash App, according to CoinDesk. The payments and merchant services company previously allowed users to buy, sell, and transfer Bitcoin. Now it appears that Square is beginning to roll out the ability for users to accept incoming deposits.
Square CEO Jack Dorsey is an ardent proponent of Bitcoin. He recently began to assemble a small team of elite developers to help strengthen the cryptocurrency's ecosystem. The team, named Square Crypto, will report directly to Dorsey.
Dorsey wants to help make cryptocurrency more accessible to the masses. In this regard, he plans to eventually bring the Lightning Network -- a scaling solution that could enable fast and inexpensive cryptocurrency payments -- to Square's Cash App. "We don't think it stops at buying and selling [Bitcoin]," Dorsey said during a podcast with Stephan Livera. "We do want to help make happen the currency aspect." Allowing users of Square's Cash App to receive bitcoin deposits is another step in this direction.
ErisX receives license
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has granted ErisX a license that will allow it to offer digital asset futures contracts. The trading platform is backed by popular discount brokerage TD Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD).
In the case of Bitcoin, futures contracts are binding agreements that allow traders to make bets on whether the cryptocurrency's price will rise or fall over a certain period of time. ErisX's futures contracts will be physically settled, meaning the buyer of the contract will receive actual Bitcoin. This is in contrast to the cash-settled contracts offered by other exchanges, such as CME Group.
ErisX says its regulated derivatives market will launch later this year. The company says its trading platform will better serve the needs of professional investors.
"By establishing a marketplace and developing infrastructure typically associated with traditional markets, ErisX has eliminated many of the obstacles institutional investors face in accessing digital assets," ErisX CEO Don Wilson said. "This is another step in the development and maturation of the markets."