Options on Coinbase Global start trading in robust volume

FILE PHOTO: People watch as the logo for Coinbase Global Inc, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite jumbotron at Times Square in New York
FILE PHOTO: People watch as the logo for Coinbase Global Inc, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite jumbotron at Times Square in New York, U.S., April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

April 20, 2021

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Options on Coinbase Global Inc started trading in healthy volume Tuesday, less than a week after the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange’s closely watched market debut on Nasdaq.

Monthly options contracts on Coinbase shares started trading for the first time on all U.S. options exchanges, including ones run by Cboe Global Markets, the Nasdaq and the Intercontinental Exchange, on Tuesday.

About 12,000 Coinbase options contracts changed hands in the first two hours of trading, with calls outnumbering puts slightly, data from options analytics firm Trade Alert showed.

Puts convey the right to sell the stock at a set price at a future date, while calls provide the right to buy it at a certain price at a date down the road.

Coinbase recently went public in a high-profile direct listing on Nasdaq, where – unlike a traditional initial public offering – no shares are sold ahead of the opening. The company was briefly valued at more than $100 billion.

On Tuesday, Coinbase options trading volume was set to hit 30,000 contracts for the day, according to Trade Alert. While volume was robust, it was a far cry from other popular stocks’ options market launch.

For instance, Facebook Inc’s options traded about 360,000 contracts on their first day of trading in 2012.

“It’s not fireworks,” said Henry Schwartz, head of product intelligence at Cboe. “Still, volume isn’t bad,” he said.

A surge of interest in retail trading over the last year has sent a rush of volume to U.S. equity options markets over the last several months as traders look to speculate on the direction of heavily traded stocks.

For Coinbase, the lack of a lockup period, where a bar on selling stock can prompt investors to take to options to protect their holding, may have taken away one key source of demand for options, Schwartz said.

Unlike traditional IPOs where existing shareholders typically have a lockup period of six to 12 months during which they cannot sell their shares on the market, Coinbase does not have a lockup.

Coinbase shares were down 4.2% at $318.83 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)