BATS Global Markets announced Wednesday that it plans to start a U.S. equity options exchange by early next year, as the electronic equities market operator expands into derivatives.

The launch of BATS Options requires approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Kansas City, Mo., company has yet to formally file with the regulator, according to a spokesman.

The company's U.S. platform, BATS Exchange, was started in 2006 and rose to become the third-largest domestic stock trading venue behind NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., until a rival platform, Direct Edge, challenged its position this spring.

BATS won approval last August to start its own stock exchange, putting it in more direct competition with NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group.

The move into options was widely expected after Joe Ratterman, BATS' chief executive, revealed in recent months that his company was examining other asset classes. The company is also considering a futures platform.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.