Bitcoin futures trading is up. American financial market company CME Group Inc. announced on Twitter early on the morning of Wednesday, October 17, 2018, that its futures products are experiencing rising volume, explaining, “In Q3, Bitcoin futures average daily volume rose 41% and open interest was up 19% over Q2.”
This is a massive improvement over just two months ago when CME stated that volumes on the futures markets had been in the hole for three consecutive trading sessions. During that time, CME’s data reported less than 2,500 BTC transactions — down from over 8,000 at the month’s midpoint. This represented a fall of nearly 70 percent over eight days.
Now, however, trading is heating up. Per the company’s data, the average daily volume soared above 5,000 contracts in the third quarter, a significant increase from the 3,577 contracts traded in Q2 and a 170 percent hike from the first quarter’s 1,854 contracts.
CME also offered data regarding open interest, which accounts for the total number of unsettled contracts held by current market traders. This figure is also significantly larger, jumping from about 1,500 individual contracts in quarter one to nearly 2,900 contracts in the third quarter. This number has also grown significantly from the second quarter, which boasted just over 2,400 separate contracts.
Tim McCourt, CME’s managing director and global head of equity products and alternative investments, suggested in September that volumes had been spiking and that the firm was witnessing growing interest from Asian markets.
“Out of the 40 percent of bitcoin futures trading on CME that’s outside the United States, approximately 21 percent are coming from Asia,” he mentioned at CoinDesk’s Consensus in Singapore.
CME’s data is somewhat comparable to bitcoin futures products listed on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), which has posted similar numbers for each quarter with differences of only a few hundred contracts. In mid-February during Q1, for example, CBOE daily volume was at roughly 2,100 contracts, while open interest accounted for just over 1,100 contracts. By mid-June, both figures had jumped to 2,258 and 1,412 contracts, respectively. Now, in mid-October, CBOE is reporting significantly larger numbers, with nearly 5,800 contracts in the total volume category and about 1,750 contracts in open interest.
The first institutional-grade bitcoin derivatives of their kind in the U.S., both the CME and CBOE futures were launched back in December of 2017. The derivatives were considered a significant step toward attracting institutional money into the largely retail-investor-driven crypto market, and other legacy financial institutions have been following — or, in the case of a bitcoin ETF, trying to follow — CME’s and CBOE’s lead in 2018 to provide like products.