The first-ever bitcoin future jumped after it began trading Sunday as the increasingly popular virtual currency made its debut on a major US exchange. The futures contract that expires in January surged more than $3,000 to $18,010 four hours after trading launched on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the AP reports. The contract opened at $15,000, according to data from the CBOE. The CBOE futures don't involve actual bitcoin. They're securities that will track the price of bitcoin on Gemini, one of the larger bitcoin exchanges. The start of trading at 5pm CST overwhelmed the CBOE website, though the exchange said trading in futures had not been disrupted.
Another large futures exchange, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, will start trading its own futures on Dec. 18 but will use a composite of several bitcoin prices across a handful of exchanges. The price of a bitcoin has soared since beginning the year below $1,000, even briefly topping $19,000 on some exchanges last week. The futures will allow investors to bet that bitcoin's price will go down—a practice known as shorting—which until now has been very difficult to do. (Analysts warn that the price of bitcoin could eventually collapse. In September, when the price was around $4,000, JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon called bitcoin buyers "stupid.")