IDIFF

The iDIFF series of futures (X.IDIFF) pays out proportionately to bitcoin mining difficulty at the settlement date (3rd Wednesday of the month of the particular X.DIFF.<month>). Payout is equal to the difficulty number divided by 10 000 and truncated to a whole integer, in satoshis.

Example: calculate the payout of an X.IDIFF.MAR when the difficulty is at 5 billion at iDIFF settlement (third Wednesday is March 19, 2013):

payout = trunc(difficulty/ 10 000) satoshi

= trunc(difficulty/10 000)/100 000 000 BTC

= trunc(5e9/10 000)/ 100 000 000 = 0.005 BTC

These futures may be also created against a collateral and then sold short, similarly like options. The collateral is 2.9x last settlement value for every 3 months between now and settlement. Instead of MKOPT, one issues MKFUT. For example, issuing

MKFUT|X.IDIFF.JUN|10

will give you 10 futures. Since it's two quarters away (now is January) and last settlement value for X.IDIFF.DEC was 0.00090835 BTC (it was actually 9 BTC but 1/10000 factor was then introduced), requested collateral will be :

10x2.9x0.00090835 = 0.02634215 BTC.

There are no fees for MKFUT. On settlement, you will get back unused part of the collateral. But if the difficulty grows too fast (faster than 2.9x per quarter), the futures pay only up to provided collateral. This must be considered when assessing the market price.

Doing MKFUT and selling the contracts is the only way these futures can appear on the market, there is no market maker like MPOE is for options. Also, because the futures of one type issued in different quarters of year have different collateral backing them, the resulting average collateral per share is not known and can be only estimated. All considered, these futures became a quite unpopular, but it can be expected they will pick up again when mining market becomes mature.

EUR

In December of 2013 MPEx began listing Euro futures (X.EUR). These futures entitle the bearer to request delivery of 1 Euro at 15th of each month. Euros will be credited to a trading account on Bitcoin-Central if an X.EUR contract holder requests delivery during a given month’s redemption window. Failing to make redemption requests simply results in the contracts purchased being rolled over to the next month.

The combination of options on the USD/BTC spot price and futures on Euros gives an MPEx trader the ability to synthesize a wide variety of positions on the dollar, bitcoin and euros. I have written more about the X.EUR here.

Other futures

In 2012 various futures like gold, oil, wheat,S&P 500,.. were introduced with delivery in bitcoins, but were very little traded and soon discontinued. Still, it proves MPEx isn't shy to experiment with offering various financial instruments.