CME crypto futures see record activity during bear market



Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) derivatives contracts offered by CME Group saw record activity in the second quarter, offering tangible evidence that professional traders were still accessing digital assets during the bear market. 

The average daily open interest (OI) across CME’s crypto futures products reached 106,200 contracts in the second quarter, the highest on record, the company disclosed Thursday. In futures markets, OI reflects the total number of derivatives contracts that have not been settled.

In terms of average daily volume, Bitcoin futures saw 10,700 contracts traded in the second quarter; Ether’s daily volume was 6,100 contracts.

During the week of June 21, large open interest holders (LOIH) accessing CME Group’s crypto products reached a high of 404, signaling “growing interest from institutional and large sophisticated investors,” the company said.

Despite extreme market volatility for Bitcoin and Ether, CME Group’s crypto futures products have been “a haven of consistent liquidity with continued volume and open interest growth for investors,” Tim McCourt, CME’s global head of equity and FX products, said, adding:

“The variety of products, including the smaller sized micro bitcoin and micro ether futures and options, offers enhanced flexibility and trading precision for a range of market participants, including large institutions as well as sophisticated, active traders.”

In 2017, CME Group became the second derivatives marketplace to offer Bitcoin futures contracts, trailing its cross-town rival CBOE Global Markets by one week. By the end of 2020, CME’s cumulative Bitcoin futures volume reached $100 billion.

Related: ‘Bullish rate hike’ — Why crypto spiked today in the face of bad news

The derivatives exchange has since gone on to launch several crypto derivatives products, including micro-sized Bitcoin and Ether options. These contracts are 10% the size of their respective crypto assets, giving traders more opportunities to hedge their exposure.

On Thursday, CME revealed that its Micro BTC product saw an average daily volume of 17,400 contracts in the second quarter. Daily volume for its ETH-equivalent micro contract was 21,300.


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