Cboe To Add Slate of Partners to Grow Digital Asset Business

Robinhood, GSR, Interactive Brokers and others intend to take minority stakes in company after ErisX acquisition

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Cboe Global Markets hybrid open outcry / electronic trading, June 6, 2022; Source: Jason Smith for Cboe Global Markets

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key takeaways

  • Company’s near-term focuses include adding margin-based futures contracts, market data tools, executives said
  • “We very intentionally established a diverse group of partners,” Cboe Chief Strategy Officer John Deters said

Cboe Global Markets is bringing aboard a slate of equity partners to help grow its digital assets business, just months after closing its acquisition of ErisX.

The company is seeking to build out its crypto spot and futures capabilities to fill what executives called “a massive gap” in the space of offering market intermediaries a trusted venue for its retail and institutional clients.

ErisX operates a US-based digital asset spot market, as well as a futures exchange and clearinghouse regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Cboe, which owns the world’s largest options exchange, closed its acquisition of the company in May as a way to enter the digital asset spot and derivatives marketplaces and is set to rebrand ErisX to Cboe Digital.

The new planned partners, each of which intend to take minority stakes in Cboe, are B2C2, DRW, GSR, Hidden Road, IMC, Interactive Brokers, Jane Street, Jump Crypto, Optiver, Robinhood, tastytrade and Virtu Financial. Executives did not reveal the specific size of the stakes.

The investors join other previously announced partner firms, such as Fidelity Digital Assets, Galaxy Digital, NYDIG and Webull. Cboe plans to form a digital advisory committee comprising the partner firms.

The incoming group of partners includes retail order flow providers, some of the largest market makers in the spot crypto world and other market makers focused more on derivatives pricing and trading, Cboe Chief Strategy Officer John Deters told Blockworks. 

“We very intentionally established a diverse group of partners,” he said. “It’s that kind of mix which creates, we think, an ideal and healthy blend of participants, each with a little bit different focus and coming together simultaneously to make a vibrant and liquid market.” 

ErisX and Cboe product roadmap

ErisX offers cash-settled futures contracts on bitcoin and ether. It offers spot trading on bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, litecoin and USD Coin.

In terms of the company’s product roadmap, ErisX President John Palmer told Blockworks that its “next push” is getting CFTC approval to trade margin-based futures contracts. Cboe hopes to roll those products out by the end of the year, he said.

Into 2023 and 2024, the firm will seek to offer additional futures contracts and spot trading for tokens beyond the five digital assets currently offered. Though Palmer did not name specific assets it would seek to offer, it noted that it would be considering other “top-traded tokens.”

“We certainly want to offer that very quickly and have a platform where participants can trade spot and derivatives and really get the benefit of capital efficiencies by having these things all clear at our clearinghouse,” Palmer said.     

Using market data based on actionable bid and offer prices from the spot crypto market, Cboe Digital also plans on developing a benchmark data stream to help market participants evaluate crypto execution prices, Deters said.

“Our industry is going digital over the long-term, and so making sure that our platform is built for that future, that we’re helping market participants and our clients engage in the market and helping them figure out opportunities to digitizing and interacting with their products is a “mission-critical” initiative for us and will keep us busy for quite a bit of time to come,” Deters said.


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