NFA Investor Advisory—Futures on Virtual Currencies Including Bitcoin

The purpose of this investor advisory is to remind investors that, just like any other speculative investment, trading futures on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, have certain benefits and various risks. While futures on virtual currencies must be traded on regulated futures exchanges, trading these products involves a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors.

It is critical, therefore, for investors who are considering trading virtual currency futures to educate themselves about these products, understand their risks, and conduct due diligence before making investment decisions. Investor protection begins with investor education.

  • Conduct due diligence on any individuals and firms soliciting for an investment in futures on virtual currencies including Bitcoin by checking their Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) registration status, NFA membership status, and background using NFA's BASIC system or calling NFA's Information Center at 800-621-3570.
  • Virtual currencies including Bitcoin experience significant price volatility, and fluctuations in the underlying virtual currency's value between the time you place a trade for a virtual currency futures contract and the time you attempt to liquidate it will affect the value of your futures contract and the potential profit and losses related to it. Be very cautious and monitor any investment that you make.
  • Be aware of sales pitches offering investment schemes that promise significant returns with little risk or that encourage you to "act now." If an investment sounds too good to be true (e.g., high returns, guaranteed to perform in a certain way), then it probably is.
  • Virtual currency futures contracts are bought and sold using initial margin money that can enable you to hold a virtual currency futures contract valued more than your initial investment. This is referred to as leverage. If the price of the futures contract moves in an unfavorable direction, the leveraged nature of the futures investment can produce large losses in relation to your initial investment. In fact, even a small move against your position may result in a large loss, including the loss of your entire initial deposit, and you may be liable for additional losses.
  • Be aware of the risk of Ponzi scheme operators and fraudsters seeking to capitalize on the current attention focused on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin.

Outlined above are just some of the risks associated with trading futures on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin. Investors should consult the risk disclosures provided by their FCM and fully educate themselves on all of the associated risks before trading.

With CFTC oversight, each futures exchange listing a virtual currency futures contract is responsible for regulating its futures market. NFA performs market regulation services on behalf of certain futures exchanges and swap execution facilities. Please be aware, however, that just because futures on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, must be traded on regulated futures exchanges does not mean that the underlying virtual currency markets are regulated in any manner, and as discussed above what occurs in a virtual currency's underlying market will impact the price of a virtual currency's futures contract

Investors with questions or concerns regarding trading futures on virtual currencies including Bitcoin should contact NFA's Information Center (312-781-1410 or 800-621-3570 or information@nfa.futures.org).