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According to a new CoinDesk report, Citigroup is actively recruiting traders to begin working with Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and is awaiting regulatory approval.

CoinDesk, citing two sources, including one within the bank, reported that Citi is planning to trade Bitcoin futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). The bank reportedly is seeing a surge in client demand for cryptocurrency exposure, while Bitcoin climbs again toward $50,000.

A source familiar with the situation told that Citi’s trading operation could begin with Bitcoin futures before moving on to other products like Bitcoin exchange-traded notes. The bank is currently awaiting key regulatory approvals for a crypto trading desk based in London, CoinDesk said.

However, Citi partially denied the report, saying that claims it was starting a crypto-focused team in London or looking into ETNs were inaccurate.

“Given the many questions around regulatory frameworks, supervisory expectations, and other factors, we are being very thoughtful about our approach,” a Citigroup spokesperson answered CoinDesk by email. “We are presently considering products such as futures for some of our institutional clients, as these operate under strong regulatory frameworks.”

Citigroup, one of the largest US banks, holds around $23.7 trillion in assets under custody. In June, Citi launched a business unit to offer cryptocurrency-related products under the bank’s wealth management umbrella. According to Financial Times, Citi was said to be weighing cryptocurrency trading and custody in May 2021.

Citi had before offered clients access to Ethereum ETNs but backed away after the 2017 “crypto winter” price crash.

In January, CME took the prime spot on the list of the biggest Bitcoin futures trading platforms, indicating a continued rise in institutional participation.

Recently, Goldman Sachs began offering certain clients access to a Bitcoin via a derivative called non-deliverable forwards, reported Bloomberg Law in May. NDFs let holders bet on Bitcoin’s short-term price direction while getting paid in cash rather than Bitcoin. Goldman hedges the bet by buying or selling Bitcoin futures on the CME.

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