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First futures contract to pay out in bitcoin poised for green light

WASHINGTON—The first futures contract that will pay out in cryptocurrency rather than cash is expected to soon get regulatory approval.

The contract, launched by New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc., ICE -2.95% is aimed at institutional players who have stayed out of cryptocurrency markets out of concerns that they are unregulated and susceptible to manipulation.

Bitcoin futures allow investors to bet on the price of the cryptocurrency. Other bitcoin-futures contracts exist but they pay out in dollars.

The effort has received backing from major corporations such as Microsoft Corp. and Starbucks Corp., which have the longer-term goal of making cryptocurrency transparent and regulated enough to allow customers to use it for retail purchases, such as a Starbucks latte.