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NYSE owner launches long-awaited bitcoin futures

The owner of the New York Stock Exchange launched its long-delayed market for bitcoin futures Sunday, a high-profile bet that consumers, businesses and Wall Street will embrace cryptocurrencies.

Trading in the new bitcoin futures began just after 8 p.m. EDT, with the first trade at $10,115.00, in line with the current price of bitcoin, said a spokesman for the exchange’s parent company, Intercontinental Exchange Inc. ICE -2.97% Futures let traders bet on whether an underlying market such as oil, gold, stocks or currencies will rise or fall.

The new futures are part of a venture called Bakkt (pronounced “backed”), whose ultimate goal is to make cryptocurrencies sufficiently transparent and regulated for individuals to use in retail purchases. Bitcoin has failed to gain traction as a tool for payment, in part because of its extreme volatility. If successful, ICE’s futures could make it easier for merchants to protect themselves from swings in bitcoin prices.