A flurry of crypto options activity ahead of Bitcoin's halving contributed to derivative volumes hitting a new all-time high in May.
In a new report Thursday, London-based data aggregator CryptoCompare found crypto derivative volumes increased 32% to $602 billion. That's a new all-time high, squeaking past the previous record of $600 billion set in March.
Most of the heavy-lifting came from Huobi, OKEx and Binance. The three exchanges made up 80% of May's derivative activity. Huobi was the largest, with $176 billion in volume, up 29% from April. OKEx and Binance came in with $156 billion and $139 billion, respectively.
But CryptoCompare also found there was a notable increase in trading activity around crypto options, contracts giving the owner the right to buy or sell the underlying at a specified date and price.
Volume on options exchange Deribit more than doubled to $3.06 billion in May. On the 10th of that month, the day before the Bitcoin halving event, $196 million worth of trades passed through Deribit, making it the single-biggest day in the platform's four-year history.
Similarly, institutional exchange CME, which only released its own crypto options earlier this year, reported a 16-fold increase in monthly activity compared to April. Like Deribit, there was a significant uptick in trading activity in and around the Bitcoin halving event.
Speaking to CoinDesk, CryptoCompare founder and CEO Charles Hayter said the surge in crypto options trading suggested a "more sophisticated, diverse class of investor" is getting involved during a period when not only was there a halving event, but also "unprecedented financial measures" taking place around the world following the coronavirus outbreak.
CryptoCompare also found that crypto derivatives gained market share in May. While spot volumes continue to make up the lion's share, representing roughly 68% of total trading activity, crypto derivatives saw their share increase to 32% in May from 27% in April.
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