Hancock Bank, the largest U.S. bank, plans to invest up to $1.3 billion in a futures market that is expected to grow rapidly as more Americans become more aware of the digital currency, according to people familiar with the matter.
The firm is considering a number of investment options, including buying bitcoin futures contracts on futures markets, the people said.
Hancock will pay $1 million per contract for the bitcoin futures, which the people asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.
They declined to disclose specific terms.
In January, Hancock announced it had agreed to buy more than 2,000 bitcoin futures in a deal that closed in early March.
The move is the latest example of Hancock’s effort to capitalize on bitcoin’s rapid rise in the wake of a U.N. crackdown on illicit financial activity.
The bank also is a member of a growing list of big banks and investment firms that have begun exploring digital currencies.
A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.
The rise of bitcoin has spurred speculation that the Federal Reserve might eventually step in, and that it might start raising interest rates.
The Federal Reserve, however, has declined to do so, saying it doesn’t expect to raise rates any time soon.
The central bank is the U.P. of central banks, the nation’s central bank that sets interest rates for most U.s. economic policy.