INTERNATIONAL - CME Group announced plans to offer a bitcoin futures contract this year. 

This brings it in line with Cboe Global Markets, which announced similar plans in August, and LedgerX, which began trading in bitcoin options and day-ahead swops two weeks ago.

These contracts are important steps toward integrating bitcoin with the global financial system. 

There are three plausible scenarios, though only one leads to bitcoin becoming more mainstream. All three exchanges are regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which appears willing to treat bitcoin as a commodity such as wheat and oil. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been less accommodating, and without a friendlier SEC, institutions will be reluctant to offer bitcoin-related retail products or to include bitcoin in institutional portfolios like pension funds. 

The concern of bitcoin sceptics is that it’s a Ponzi scheme. The concern of true believers is that absorbing bitcoin into the global financial system would destroy its value.