Ether Futures Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice. Individuals and entities should in all cases seek advice from their independent legal and professional advisors regarding the matters discussed below.

Overview

Why is CME Group launching Ether futures?

As with any new product or service, we made the decision to launch Ether futures based on strong customer demand and a clearly articulated customer need.

Today, ether is the second largest cryptocurrency by both market capitalization and daily volume. Ether futures on a regulated, time-tested exchange can offer a way for investors to hedge risk exposure in the ether cash market – we’re creating a forward curve so investors can better manage price risk.

In May 2018, we introduced the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate (ETHUSD_RR) and CME CF Ether Real-Time Index (ETHUSD_RTI) to allow for ready access to real-time ether prices in US dollars.

What is the relationship between Ether futures and the underlying spot market?

CME Ether futures are based on the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate, ETHUSD_RR, which aggregates ether trading activity across major spot exchanges between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. London time.

On which exchange are Ether futures listed?

Ether futures are listed and cleared on CME, a US-registered designated contract market (DCM) and derivatives clearing organization (DCO).

What regulation applies to the trading of Ether futures?

The trading and clearing of Ether futures is regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the regulatory body with exclusive jurisdiction over US Ether futures markets.

What accounting and other regulatory treatment is afforded to Ether futures in my local jurisdiction?

As with any other derivatives product, the accounting treatment of positions in Ether futures, and the general local regulatory treatment of trading in Ether derivatives, may differ by country and between competent jurisdictions. Market participants are responsible for complying with all applicable US and local requirements. Market participants, particularly those with no experience in trading Ether derivatives, should seek professional counsel as necessary and appropriate to their circumstances.

Which platforms support Ether futures trading?

The platforms include a central limit order book via the CME Globex platform and ex-pit trade submission for clearing via CME ClearPort and CME Direct.

Do I need a digital wallet to trade Ether futures?

No. You do not need a digital wallet, because Ether futures at CME Group are financially settled and therefore do not involve the exchange of ether.

In order to trade futures, you must open an account with a registered futures broker who will maintain your account and guarantee your trades. In the futures business, brokerage firms are known as either futures commission merchants (FCMs) or introducing broker (IBs). Learn more here.

Product details

What are the contract specifications?

Contract unit

50 ether

Price quotation

US dollars and cents per ether

Trading hours

CME Globex: Sunday - Friday 6:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. CT) with a 60-minute break each day beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET (4:00 p.m. CT)

CME ClearPort: 6:00 p.m. Sunday to 6:45 p.m. Friday ET (5:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. CT) with a 15-minute maintenance window between 6:45 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET (5:45 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. CT) Monday - Thursday.

Minimum price fluctuation

Outrights: $0.25 per ether = $12.50 per contract
Calendar spreads: $0.05 per ether = $2.50 per contract

Product code

ETH

Listed contracts

Six consecutive monthly contracts inclusive of the nearest two December contracts.

Settlement method

Financially settled

Block eligibility

Yes, five contracts minimum

Final settlement day

Last Day of Trading is the last Friday of contract month. Trading in expiring futures terminates at 4:00 p.m. London time on Last Day of Trading.

Final settlement price

Delivery is by cash settlement by reference to the final settlement price, equal to the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate on the last day of trading.

What is the value of an Ether futures contract?

A single Ether futures contract has a value of 50 times the value of the Ether-Dollar Reference Rate Index (ETHUSD_RR) and is quoted in US dollars per one ether. 

When are Ether futures available for trading?

Ether futures can be transacted five days a week, virtually around the clock. Bilateral transactions such as block trades, pursuant to CME Rule 526, and EFRPs (exchange for related position), pursuant to CME Rule 538, may be negotiated/executed 24/7 and must be submitted for clearing during the appropriate clearing session. CME Globex, our electronic platform, is available 23 hours per day beginning Sunday evening at 6∶00 p.m. Eastern Time and ending at 5∶00 p.m. ET Friday afternoon.

Are Ether futures block-eligible?

Yes, block transactions are allowed for Ether futures, subject to reporting requirements per CME Rule 526 (learn more at cmegroup.com/blocks). The minimum block threshold is five contracts.

Are Ether futures EFP/EFRP-eligible?

Yes, Ether futures are EFP/EFRP-eligible, subject to reporting requirements per CME Rule 538.

How is the Ether futures daily settlement price determined?

CME Group staff determines the daily settlements for Ether futures based on trading activity on CME Globex between 14:59:00 and 15:00:00 Central Time (CT), the settlement period.

Tier 1: Each contract month settles to its volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of all trades that occur between 14:59:00 and 15:00:00 CT, the settlement period, rounded to the nearest tradable tick. If the VWAP is exactly in the middle of two tradable ticks, then the settlement will be the tradable price that is closer to the contract’s prior day settlement price.

Tier 2: If no trades occur on CME Globex between 14:59:00 and 15:00:00 CT, the settlement period, then the last trade (or the contract’s settlement price from the previous day in the absence of a last trade price) is used to determine whether to settle to the bid or the ask during this period.

  1. If the last trade price is outside of the bid/ask spread, then the contract month settles to the nearest bid or ask price.
  2. If the last trade price is within the bid/ask spread, or if a bid/ask spread is not available, then the contract month settles to the last trade price.

Tier 3: In the absence of any trade activity or bid/ask in a given contract month during the current trading day, the daily settlement price will be determined by applying the net change from the preceding contract month to the given contract month’s prior daily settlement price.

Are Ether futures subject to price limits?

Yes, Ether futures are subject to price limits on a dynamic basis. At the commencement of each trading day, Ether futures, are assigned a price limit variant which equals a percentage of the prior day’s exchange-determined settlement price, or a price deemed appropriate by the GCC. During the trading day, the dynamic variant is applied in rolling 60-minute look-back periods to establish dynamic lower and upper price fluctuation limits as follows:

  • The dynamic variant is subtracted from the highest trade and/or bid price during a look-back period to establish the lower price fluctuation limit
  • The dynamic variant is added to the lowest trade and/or offer price during a look-back period to establish the upper price fluctuation limit

How is the Ether futures final settlement price determined?

The final settlement value is based on the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate at 4:00 p.m. London time on the expiration day of the futures contract.

What is the maximum order size for Ether futures on CME Globex?

The maximum order size is 100 contracts.

Are options on Ether futures available for trading?

CME will not initially list options but will reassess introducing options once the futures market develops and as customer demand evolves.

CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate (ETHUSD_RR)

What is the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate (ETHUSD_RR)?

Launched in 2018, the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate (ETHUSD_RR) is a daily reference rate of the US dollar price of one ether as of 4:00 p.m. London time.

Designed by CME Group and CF Benchmarks around the IOSCO Principles for Financial Benchmarks, ETHUSD_RR aggregates the trade flow of major ether spot exchanges during a specific calculation window into a once-a-day reference rate of the US dollar price of ether. Calculation rules are geared toward maximum transparency and real-time replicability in underlying spot markets.

When is the ETHUSD_RR published?

The ETHUSD_RR is published between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. London time every day, including weekends and holidays.

Who is CF Benchmarks?

CF Benchmarks is the benchmark administrator for the ETHUSD_RR, authorized and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority as a registered Benchmark Administrator. CF Benchmarks is not affiliated with CME Group.

What is the CME CF Ether-Dollar Real-Time Index (ETHUSD_RTI)?

The CME CF Ether-Dollar Real-Time Index (ETHUSD_RTI) aggregates global demand to buy and sell ether into a consolidated order book that reflects the fair, instantaneous US dollar price of ether. It is geared toward low latency and timeliness and is based on forward-looking input data.

How often is the CME CF Ether-Dollar Real-Time Index (ETHUSD_RTI) published?

The ETHUSD_RTI will be published approximately once per second of every day, including weekends and holidays.

What methodology is being used in calculating the rates?

Details of the methodology can be found on the CME Group Cryptocurrency page.

Is historical data available for the new rates?

Yes, once CME Group starts publishing the rates, the rate history (from that point) will automatically become available through our market data channels.

Fee and margin details

What are the fees for Ether futures?

Fees can be found on the CME Fee Schedule.

View latest Fee Schedule at cmegroup.com/fees.

In which division do Ether futures reside?

Ether futures are listed on CME and reside in the IOM Division.

What are the margin requirements for Ether futures?

Exchange margin requirements can be found at cmegroup.com. Note: clearing firms may require a margin level beyond CME Clearing’s minimum requirement.

Is there a cap on clearing liability for Ether futures?

We are using a range of risk management tools related to Ether futures.  CME Clearing retains the right to impose exposure limits, additional capital requirements, and other targeted risk management tools if we see exposures that we determine might become a concern in any product or market.  Note that our Ether futures product is a cash-settled futures contract.  As such, margins will be set in line with the volatility and liquidity profile of the product.  Furthermore, we also have the ability for clearing members to impose trading or exposure limits on their clients.  Other tools may include increased capital or margin requirements in cases where exposures increase beyond reasonable levels.

Where do Ether futures fall in CME Clearing’s guaranty fund?

Ether futures fall into CME’s Base Guaranty Fund for futures and options on futures. For all other inquiries regarding margins or CME Clearing’s approach to risk management, please contact clearing.riskmanagement@cmegroup.com.

Calendar Spreads

What calendar spreads does CME Group list?

CME Group will list all possible combinations of the listed months.

What are the ticker symbol conventions for calendar spread trading?

Buying the spread is equivalent to buying the deferred contract month. For example:

ETHF1 – ETHH1 is the Jan21/Mar21 spread. Buying this spread means buying the Mar21 contract and selling the Jan21 contract.

If you are long the Jan21 contract, buying the Jan/Mar spread will extend your expiration into March.

View contract month codes

What does the spread price signify? How are separate contract priced when I do a spread trade?

The price of the spread trade is the price of the deferred expiration less the price of the nearby expiration.  After the spread trade is done, the price of the two contracts will be determined using the following convention:

The nearby contract is priced at its daily settlement price on the previous day. The deferred contract is priced is nearby contract’s assigned price plus the spread price.

For example:

  • Bought ETHF1-ETHH1 @-100
  • Assuming ETHF1 prior settle = 455
  • Price of the two legs: sold ETHF1 @ 455, bought ETHH1 @ 455 + (-100) = 355.

Additional information

What impact will Eth 2.0 have on these contracts?

Ethereum 2.0 is an update to the Ethereum blockchain which will not affect ether nor CME Ether futures. 

How can I access CME Globex?

To access CME Globex, you must have a relationship with a CME Clearing Member Firm.

Learn more about connecting to CME Globex

Where can I see prices for Ether futures?

Delayed quotes will be available on cmegroup.com. You can also access quotes through major quote vendors.

View delayed quotes
Learn more about CME Direct

What is CME Group’s policy regarding hard forks?

In the event of a hard fork, ether futures shall continue to settle to the CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate corresponding to the original token pair (ETH:USD). The Exchange may, in its sole discretion, take alternative action with respect to hard forks in consultation with market participants as may be appropriate.

What kind of oversight is there over the ether pricing products?

An oversight committee, consisting of CME Group, Crypto Facilities, and leading industry experts, will regularly review the methodology and practice standards followed in the new reference rate and index determination process to protect the integrity of the rates and ensure that all CME CF Cryptocurrency Indices continue to be representative of the underlying markets.

Where can I find additional information about CME Group Ether pricing products?

How can I access the reference data?

There are three ways to access the data:

  • CME Group website
  • Market Data Platform (MDP) through channel 213
  • CME DataMine

Through which market data channel are these products available?

Ether futures real-time market data is available on MDP Channel 318, and Ether futures historical data will be available through CME DataMine.

Additionally, real time-market data for the underlying Ether-Dollar Reference Rate Index (ETHUSD_RR) is available through MDP Channel 213 during normal market hours, while also available 24/7 through CME DataMine’s streaming service. ETHUSD_RR and ETHUSD_RTI (Ether-Dollar Realtime Index) historical data is available through CME DataMine.

Access CME DataMine

Where can I find technical details surrounding the ETHUSD_RR and the ETHUSD_RTI?

For more information on specifications, please visit the CME Cryptocurrency Pricing Data via Streamlined SBE WIKI.

What paperwork is required to be licensed for these products?

All customers are required to sign a Market Data License Agreement (MDLA) to license the ETHUSD_RR and ETHUSD_RTI products.

Is a license agreement with Crypto Facilities or any other party required?

No, customers will license only with CME Group under the MDLA.

Can I receive this data through a third party, or do I need to get it from CME Group directly?

Customers can take the data directly from CME Group or they can subscribe to the data through a licensed third-party data provider.

Will the ETHUSD_RR and the ETHUSD_RTI require a separate licensing level entitlement for market data reporting purposes or is this product included under a current Designated Contract Market?

The reference rate and real-time indices require separate licenses and therefore, a separate entitlement for each. Specific reporting and license codes will be communicated at a later time.

If I have already been certified for other streamlined Simple Binary Encoding (SBE) Equity Indices, do I need to certify for ETHUSD_RR and the ETHUSD_RTI data?

No, customers do not need to certify separately.

What are the fees to receive, use and redistribute ETHUSD_RR and the ETHUSD_RTI ?

A fee waiver will be in place for all MDLA Schedule 2a defined Data Use Packages and Licenses. Please note that the creation and distribution of derived works using the ETHUSD_RR and the ETHUSD_RTI is not covered under the fee waiver and will require a separate Derived Data License Agreement.

Who will be contributing input data for the ether pricing products?

Where can I find more information on Ether futures at CME Group?

Visit www.cmegroup.com/etherfutures for the latest information.