CME's Rise in Bitcoin Futures Rankings Signals Growing Institutional Interest

CME has risen to second place in terms of bitcoin futures open interest, passing Binance and BitMEX.

AccessTimeIconOct 23, 2020 at 10:51 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:22 a.m. UTC

In sign of increased institutional participation in cryptocurrency, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has surpassed prominent cryptocurrency exchanges to become the second-biggest bitcoin futures platform by number of open contracts.

  • As of Thursday, bitcoin futures contracts worth $790 million were open on the CME, according to data source Skew.
  • That's 15.8% of the global open interest tally of $5 billion – the second highest contribution among major exchanges.
  • The CME was ranking fifth on the list of biggest futures exchanges by open interest on Oct. 1.
  • The exchange's contribution to global open positions has jumped from 10% to 15.8% this month alone.
  • At the start of the year, the exchange accounted for a meagre 4% of the global open interest.
  • "The CME's rise is predominantly led by institutional participation, as most entrants from that segment are prohibited from dealing in unregulated derivatives listed on retail platforms such as BitMEX and Binance," Matthew Dibb, co-founder and COO of Stack Funds, told CoinDesk.
  • The CME's regulated product also offers high standards of compliance that institutions must adhere to.
Top bitcoin futures exchanges as per open interest
Top bitcoin futures exchanges as per open interest
  • While the CME ranked second on Thursday, Malta-based OKEx retained the first place, accounting for nearly 20% of total open interest.
  • In the third position was Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency spot exchange by trading volumes, which accounted for 14.3% of the total open interest. The controversial perpetuals giant BitMEX ranked fourth.
  • Notably, BitMEX's share of global open interest has declined from 18% to 12% this month in the wake of charges that recently hit the firm in the U.S.
  • On Oct. 1, U.S. authorities charged BitMEX with illegally operating an unregistered derivatives-trading platform that accepted U.S. customers, triggering a major outflow of funds from the exchange.


  • The CME's share of global futures open interest has risen alongside bitcoin's three-week rally from $10,500 to $13,300.
  • At press time, bitcoin is changing hands near $13,000, representing a 20% gain on a month-to-date basis.
  • Bitcoin's 14-day relative strength index is now reporting overbought conditions with an above-70 print.
  • However, in a strong trending market, the indicator tends to stay overbought for a prolonged period and traps sellers on the wrong side of the market.
  • Disclosure: The author holds small positions in bitcoin and litecoin.


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