Coinbase wins approval to offer crypto futures trading in US

(Reuters) -Coinbase Global said on Wednesday it had secured approval to offer cryptocurrency futures to U.S. retail customers, scoring a major regulatory win even as it battles a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The move will allow Coinbase to offer bitcoin and ether futures directly to eligible U.S. customers. Until now, only its institutional clients could trade in such products.

Coinbase shares climbed 3% to $81.55 after the approval, which was granted by the National Futures Association (NFA), a self-regulatory organization designated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

“This is a critical milestone that reaffirms our commitment to operate a regulated and compliant business,” Coinbase said.

The company has openly criticized the SEC, which in a June lawsuit accused Coinbase of operating illegally because it had failed to register as an exchange.

CEO Brian Armstrong has also said more U.S. crypto companies could move offshore due to a hostile regulatory environment and that SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s enforcement-first approach could stifle innovation in the industry.

The NFA approval, which came nearly two years after Coinbase filed its application, could allow the company to expand into a largely untapped market.

The global derivatives market represents almost 80% of the entire crypto market, with leveraged bets on futures and other derivatives often at the root of volatility in the wider market.

In July, crypto derivatives trading volumes globally totaled about $1.85 trillion, according to research firm CCData.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)