The Asian cryptocurrency exchange Bybit has climbed in industry rankings to become the world’s second-largest bitcoin futures trading platform by open interest. 

At press time, Bybit accounts for $3.53 billion, or 16.1%, of the global bitcoin-futures open interest of $21.2 billion, according to data source Skew. That share of the market puts Bybit just behind No. 1 Binance’s 17.5%.

Bybit, which has offices across Asia, has registered solid growth over the past five months and more so this year. The exchange ranked sixth on the list of biggest bitcoin futures exchanges in October and fifth in early January. Bybit’s client profile is about 70% retail and 30% institutional, the exchange’s spokesperson told CoinDesk in a Telegram chat.

“We have to recognize the overall bull market as a key factor, and we certainly prepared ourselves well in taking advantage of it by increasing our server capacity and building in redundancy,” the spokesperson said. “When large volume came with sudden spikes/volatility, we managed to execute orders as usual while many other exchanges experienced downtime.”

Bitcoin futures exchange rankings by open interest as of March 15
Source: Skew

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), seen as more heavily focused on institutional trading activity, now ranks fourth below OKEx, after holding the top position in late December and January. 

The change in the leaderboard suggests institutional activity has cooled in this quarter, while retail participation has picked up. The spot market activity paints a similar picture. According to JPMorgan, retail investors have purchased over 187,000 BTC so far this quarter and institutions have accumulated 173,000 BTC. 

Also read: Nearly $40B in US Stimulus Checks May Be Spent on Bitcoin and Stocks: Mizuho Survey

Some of Bybit’s growth might be attributable to its referral program. The exchange launched the referral scheme on Jan. 7 this year, under which existing clients and any new customers they refer can qualify for $10 bonuses paid in BTC.

Retail traders, inspired by the 2020 rally, also may have flocked to Bybit for its 100x leverage: For every $1 in the trading account, users can trade in the market up to $100 in value, with a 1% margin requirement.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.