The Chicago mercantile Exchange. Photo: Flickr Commons

With the World Health Organization officially recognizing the Covid-19 outbreak as a global pandemic, crypto-related companies and organizations are changing the way they operate.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group, the second firm to launch bitcoin futures in the United States, will suspend trading in Chicago from March 13, according to a CNBC report

CME cited the need for caution over the spread of the coronavirus for the decision. Financial markets across the US have been severely affected by the outbreak, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1,500 points in 24 hours at the time of writing, Cointelegraph reported.

CME is the world’s largest financial derivatives exchange, and trades in agricultural products, fiat and cryptocurrencies, interest rates, metals, and stock indexes. The group released a statement citing the precautionary principle: “No coronavirus cases have been reported on the trading floor or in the Chicago Board of Trade building. The reopening of the trading floor will be evaluated as more medical guidance on the coronavirus becomes available.”

Bullish news?

One prominent crypto YouTuber considered the news to be bullish, saying that it would remove downward pressure on the price of bitcoin.

That Martini Guy tweeted, “BULLISH NEWS FOR BITCOIN! FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2017 CME GROUP SUSPENDS #BTC FUTURES!! This means institutional downwards pressure will reduce and retail will be back in control of the markets! Since @CMEGroup launched, retail has struggled to contain the sell pressure!”

Global impact

To date, the coronavirus outbreak has been responsible for stopping most flights to and from China, closing Italy to the entire world, and earlier today, travel restrictions between Europe and the United States, said the Cointelegraph report. 

However, there are no plans yet announced to close the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, despite the 200+ confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the city. The Nasdaq, also based in NYC, is preparing a backup trading floor and data facility in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard business center, but remains open for business.

While CME’s headquarters in Chicago will remain open with all 450 staff, some crypto exchanges and companies have been implementing new policies in preparation for the Covid-19 spread. 

Coinbase, the crypto exchange out of San Francisco, and Messari, a crypto analytics firm in New York City, have both announced employees will work from home until further notice.
Blockstack and the Winklevoss Twins are also encouraging employees to work remotely.

As of today, the United States has 1,322 confirmed cases of people infected with Covid-19, with 38 reported deaths.