Ether is eyeing a 10-day winning streak in a sign of its strongest bullish momentum in more than three years.

The second-largest cryptocurrency was changing hands around $3,500 at press time, for a 2% rise since 0:00 coordinated universal time (8 p.m. ET Monday). If the gains are held through the daily close (23:59 UTC), ether would cement a 10-day winning trend, the longest since early January 2018, according to Coinbase data.

Ether daily price chart
Source: TradingView

Ether (ETH), which is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, has nearly quintupled this year, in a rally fueled by speculation over the future of decentralized finance, known as DeFi, as well as other use cases like non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. There’s also mounting evidence of robust growth in transaction volumes and other network metrics, as documented in a May 3 tweet by the blockchain analytics firm Glassnode.

In 2021, the cryptocurrency has outshone the larger bitcoin (BTC), which has doubled so far this year. Ether’s market value has now topped $400 billion, but it’s still well behind the $1.04 trillion for bitcoin.

The rising popularity of ether futures listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) shows institutions are seeking exposure to the cryptocurrency via derivatives markets.

Ether: CME futures open interest
Source: Skew

Open interest in the CME futures, or the amount of outstanding positions, rose to a record high of $473 million on Monday, marking a 23-fold increase since the first-day tally of $20 million, per data provider Skew. Ether futures went live on the CME on Feb. 8.

On Monday, some $581 million of ether futures contracts changed hands on the CME, up 17-fold since the debut.

The CME data demonstrates the increasing influence of institutional money in the market, according to analysts at cryptocurrency exchange OKEx.

“Chicago Mercantile Exchange futures are one of the primary ways that institutional investors can get exposure to crypto,” Coin Metrics’ weekly newsletter published on Tuesday said. “Unlike most crypto exchanges, CME is regulated in the U.S. and has a long history with traditional derivatives, which makes it a trusted venue for institutions.”

Also read: Amid New Price Highs, Ether Flips Bitcoin on Options Volume 

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