The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is requesting public comment on Ethereum (ETH) regarding its underlying technology, opportunities, risks, mechanics, use cases, and markets.
Essentially, the CFTC is trying to confirm whether ETH is a commodity or a security. If it’s a commodity, the agency must determine whether it is proper to have official futures markets for it.
Earlier in 2018, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBoE) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the same exchanges that host the only official Bitcoin (BTC) Futures in the United States, indicated it wanted to launch Ethereum futures markets. This CFTC request for public comment is likely part of the process to determine whether these Ethereum (ETH) futures markets will become a reality.
There is strong evidence that the Bitcoin futures markets on CME have directly caused the Bitcoin (BTC) market to decline. This has been confirmed by the Federal Reserve. Bitcoin (BTC) Futures on CME launched on Dec. 17, 2017, the same day Bitcoin began to decline from its peak of $20,000.
Essentially, paper Bitcoins (BTC) are being printed in large quantity on the CME Bitcoin Futures market, and there is tremendous short selling pressure. It is likely that Ethereum (ETH) Futures markets on CBoE and CME will have similar negative effects on the ETH market.
Indeed, the ETH market has already gotten a taste of what short selling on derivatives markets can do to price. BitMEX, the largest cryptocurrency derivatives exchange in the world with billions of dollars of daily trading volume and up to 100X leverage, added Ethereum (ETH) trading in August. At the time, the CEO of BitMEX, Arthur Hayes, said Ethereum (ETH) would become a double digit shitcoin. This ominous truth has verified and is directly related to intense short selling pressure on BitMEX. The addition of Ethereum (ETH) futures on CME might have effects that are similar but more severe.
It is not certain that Ethereum (ETH) futures will happen since Ethereum (ETH) must survive the Constantinople hard fork before futures can be considered. The Ethereum (ETH) developers have decided to get rid of mining long term, and this fork is intended to begin the transition from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS). Block rewards will be slashed from three Ether to two, and ProgPoW might be implemented, which would block ASIC miners.
This will likely lead to a chain split, where Ethereum (ETH) ASIC miners coordinate to stay on the old chain while the developers and GPU miners migrate to the new Constantinople chain. It will not be a smooth transition and could be just as bad or worse than the Bitcoin Cash war.
Already Ethereum’s (ETH) price is below $100 after declining from a peak of $1,400 in January 2018. The fork has the potential to bring Ethereum (ETH) far lower, especially since BitMEX traders will be massively short selling at the first sign of war. The community infighting and chain split would probably lead to unacceptably risky conditions for the launch of official Ethereum (ETH) futures markets in Chicago.
Ultimately, the potential for Ethereum (ETH) futures markets and the Constantinople hard fork make the near future of Ethereum (ETH) seem particularly bleak. If Ethereum (ETH) survives the fork in one piece, it will have to deal with strong downward pressure when the futures market launches. That being said, it is not impossible that Ethereum (ETH) will run the course and survive as a major cryptocurrency long term, especially considering its merits as the number one platform for smart contract deployment and dApps.