A cryptocurrency that aspires to become part of the mainstream financial system may have to satisfy widely divergent criteria. It would need to be mathematically complex (to avoid fraud and hacker attacks) but easy for consumers to understand; decentralized but with adequate consumer safeguards and protection; and preserve user anonymity without being a conduit for tax evasion, money laundering and other nefarious activities. Since these are formidable criteria to satisfy, is it possible that the most popular cryptocurrency in a few years’ time could have attributes that fall in between heavily-regulated fiat currencies and today’s cryptocurrencies? While that possibility looks remote, there is little doubt that as the leading cryptocurrency at present, Bitcoin’s success (or lack thereof) in dealing with the challenges it faces may determine the fortunes of other cryptocurrencies in the years ahead.
Still, Interactive Brokers will offer its customers access to the futures, though with greater restrictions. They won’t be able to go short -- betting that prices will decline -- and Interactive’s margin requirement, or how much investors have to set aside as collateral, will be at least 50 percent. That’s higher than either Cboe’s or CME’s margin requirements.
Even though other transaction coins will definitely grow in value in the next few years, I think that Bitcoin will remain the dominant currency in this segment. While others may be faster, less centralized, or more private, Bitcoin’s incredible first mover advantage and allowance for upgrades makes me continue to place my faith in the reigning monarch of cryptocurrencies.
Update 1st October 2018: The cryptocurrency market has been volatile as ever over the last 6 months. Unless you are a skilled trader, it is harder to make money in a bear market than in a bull market – and we have been in a bear market for some time now. Personally, I have stopped trading and I am now focussing on growing my portfolio passively using a cryptocurrency trading bot – you can find out more about this here.  If you are new to crypto, read on!

These characteristics make Bitcoin fundamentally different from a fiat currency, which is backed by the full faith and credit of its government. Fiat currency issuance is a highly centralized activity supervised by a nation’s central bank. While the bank regulates the amount of currency issued in accordance with its monetary policy objectives, there is theoretically no upper limit to the amount of such currency issuance. In addition, local currency deposits are generally insured against bank failures by a government body. Bitcoin, on the other hand, has no such support mechanisms. The value of a Bitcoin is wholly dependent on what investors are willing to pay for it at a point in time. As well, if a Bitcoin exchange folds up, clients with Bitcoin balances have no recourse to get them back.

Created by Charlie Lee, a former Google engineer, Litecoin is an open-source payment network that operates on a global scale. It is not controlled by any centralized power, and it uses the “scrypt” as proof-of-work. It is similar to Bitcoin but has the advantage of offering a faster rate of generation and therefore faster transactions. This is one of the main reasons why its enthusiasts continue to invest or hold onto the coin even after finding out that its founder sold his stack.
It is important to note that some altcoins innovate by experimenting with useful characteristics Bitcoin does not offer. For instance, Ripple serves as a protocol users can employ to make inter-currency payments with ease, BitShares describes itself as “a fair version of Wall Street,” and Darkcoin hopes to provide a platform for completely anonymous transactions. Some altcoin ecosystems, such as Mastercoin and CounterParty, even utilize the Bitcoin blockchain to secure their platform.
If you have an account with us but are not approved to trade futures, you first need to request futures trading privileges. Be sure to check that you have the right permissions and meet funding requirements on your account before you apply. Please note that the approval process may take 1-2 business days. Once you have been granted futures approval, contact the Futures Desk at 866-839-1100 or email us to request access to /XBT.