Bitcoin Futures: CME Tops $3.5B in Open Interest

CME emerges as 2nd largest Bitcoin futures exchange with $3.54B open interest, signaling potential institutional buying. Seize opportunities now!
Bitcoin futures

Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), a regulated exchange, have experienced a significant rise in notional open interest, reaching $3.54 billion. This increase has placed CME in the second position among exchanges offering trading in standard Bitcoin and perpetual futures. Analysts are divided on whether this growth indicates increased institutional buying or other factors.

CME’s recent ascent in the ranks is reminiscent of the early stages of the 2020-21 bull run. The exchange has surpassed its competitors in terms of open interest, with only Binance holding a higher position at $3.83 billion, which is 8% more than CME. CME’s cash-settled futures contracts have reached a milestone, surpassing 100,000 BTC in open interest for the first time. The exchange’s share in the Bitcoin futures market has also achieved a new all-time high of 25%.

Contract Sizes and Types

The contract sizes for CME’s Bitcoin futures are 5 BTC for the standard contract and one-tenth of 1 BTC for the micro contract. In contrast, the standard Ether futures have a contract size of 50 ETH, and the micro futures are equivalent to one-tenth of 1 ETH. Most open interest in offshore exchanges is concentrated in perpetual futures, which are futures with no expiry and use the funding rate mechanism to stay in line with the spot price.

Institutional-led Rally or Unwinding Bearish Bets?

Some observers attribute CME’s rise to an institutional-led rally. Bitcoin has experienced a 27% increase this month, driven by macroeconomic uncertainty and optimism surrounding spot ETFs. Retail investors have also contributed to this growth, as evidenced by the increase in futures-based ETFs. For example, ProShares’ bitcoin futures ETF saw a significant jump in volume, reaching $340 million last week.

However, André Dragosch, head of research at Deutsche Digital Assets, offers a different perspective. He suggests that CME’s rise is due to the unwinding of bearish bets on offshore exchanges. According to Dragosch, the recent surge in price was induced by a short squeeze, resulting in a reduction in aggregate open interest.

Impact of CME’s Growth on the Market

The growth of CME’s notional open interest for Bitcoin futures has several implications for the market. First, it highlights the increasing interest of institutional investors in cryptocurrency, as CME is a regulated exchange that caters primarily to this group. Second, it demonstrates the growing importance of futures contracts in the cryptocurrency market, as they provide a way for investors to hedge their positions and manage risk.

Moreover, the rise in CME’s Bitcoin futures open interest could signal a shift in market dynamics. As more institutional investors enter the market, trading volumes and liquidity may increase, leading to greater price stability and reduced volatility. This could make cryptocurrencies more attractive to mainstream investors and further drive the adoption of digital assets.


In conclusion, CME’s notional open interest for Bitcoin futures has risen significantly, making them the second-largest exchange in this market. While the reasons behind this increase are debated among analysts, some attribute it to institutional buying, while others suggest it is a result of unwinding bearish bets on offshore exchanges. Regardless of the cause, this growth highlights the growing importance of Bitcoin futures and their potential impact on the cryptocurrency market.