Interested in Cryptocurrencies? Here’s A Guide to Key Symbols Associated with the Space

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Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have rallied in the last week, following several months of weakness. Investors interested in the asset class have several ways to gain exposure.

Retail investors looking to participate in the crypto market have these alternatives:

  • Buy cryptocurrencies directly
  • Buy stocks involved in the cryptocurrency industry
  • Trade futures

You Can Buy Cryptocurrencies Directly

One of the most straightforward way to invest in cryptocurrencies is by directly purchasing digital assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. These trade 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on cryptocurrency exchanges. These products can be purchased in fractional amounts, which makes even high-priced cryptos accessible to smaller investors.

You Can Buy Crypto-Related Stocks

Several companies are focused on cryptocurrencies, or have some of their business exposed to it. These stocks tend to be highly volatile and follow moves in digital assets like Bitcoin. This table identifies some of the most actively traded:

CompanyBusiness
Riot Blockchain (RIOT)Bitcoin mining
Coinbase (COIN)Crypto exchange
Marathon Technologies (MARA)Blockchain technologies
Bit Digital (BTBT)Bitcoin mining
Microstrategy (MSTR)Bitcoin owner, consultancy
Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC)Trust holding Bitcoin
(Trades over the counter)
Canaan (CAN)Bitcoin mining hardware

You Can Trade Crypto Futures

Investors interested in cryptocurrencies can also trade futures tracking Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, they should first understand how the futures market functions.

Futures are derivatives that trade from Sunday night through Friday afternoon. They’re most popular for stock indexes like the S&P 500 (@ES) and commodities like crude oil (@CL). Futures contracts use the concept of margin, which means you need to have a certain amount of capital in your account to go either long or short. Profits are accrued based on correctly positioning before a move. Unlike trading cryptos or stocks directly, futures traders never directly own anything.

Here are the key futures contracts tracking cryptocurrencies:

ProductRoot SymbolCurrent
Contract
Coins / Contract
CME Bitcoin FuturesBTCJuly 2021 (BTCN21)5 coins
CME Micro Bitcoin FuturesMBTJuly 2021 (MBTN21)1/10 of a coin
CME Ethereum FuturesETHJuly 2021 (ETHN21)50 coins
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