SEC warns investors of the risks with Bitcoin futures

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) has warned investors about the risks of Bitcoin futures trading — citing market volatility, a lack of regulation and fraud to name a few issues.

In a June 10 Investor Alerts bulletin, the SEC outlines key points that investors should “carefully consider” before investing in a fund that buys or sells Bitcoin futures.

“Investors should understand that Bitcoin, including gaining exposure through the Bitcoin futures market, is a highly speculative investment,” the bulletin read.

This latest Bitcoin-related risk warning from the SEC follows up on a note it sent out last month, warning investors “interested in investing in a mutual fund with exposure to the Bitcoin futures market” to think twice due to the risks.

The latest warning notes that while investments in all types of funds involve risk, funds that “buy or sell Bitcoin futures may have unique characteristics and heightened risks compared” to others:

“Investors should consider the volatility of Bitcoin and the Bitcoin futures market, as well as the lack of regulation and potential for fraud or manipulation in the underlying Bitcoin market.”

The SEC also highlighted that Bitcoin’s price does not necessarily correlate with the value of the fund that holds Bitcoin futures positions. According to the SEC, this is in part due to the funds potentially not having a direct exposure to the “underlying assets.”

“Futures contract prices can vary by delivery months and differ from the underlying commodity’s spot price,” the bulletin read.

The bulletin also emphasized warnings such as “investors should focus on the level of risk they are taking compared to the level of risk they are comfortable taking,” which sparked a humorous response on Twitter, with finance and risk researcher and author Nassim Taleb, stating “I am very grateful that we have the SEC, thank God!”

The warning is the second time this week U.S. regulatory bodies have come out publicly against cryptocurrency derivatives. On June 8, Dan M. Berkovitz, the commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said he believed that DeFi markets for derivatives are a “bad idea” and that he doesn’t see “how they are legal under the CEA.”

Caitlin Long, the founder and CEO of Avanti Financial, has been keeping an eye on narrative from public statements put out by U.S. governing bodies amid what she calls a “crypto regulatory crackdown”. She pointed out earlier today the SEC was likely even more alarmed about overseas platforms:

“SEC is issuing this investor warning re onshore exchanges, which offer only about 2.5x leverage–just imagine how it views offshore exchanges offering >100x leverage.”

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