Bitcoin CME Futures' Open Interest Reaches Record High of $10B

Notional open interest refers to the dollar value of the active or open futures contracts at a given time.

AccessTimeIconMar 11, 2024 at 12:15 p.m. UTC
  • The notional open interest in CME’s bitcoin futures has risen past the $10 billion market for the first time.
  • CME's futures market is now bigger than the market cap of litecoin, bitcoin cash and other top 25 cryptocurrencies.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) bitcoin (BTC) futures market is busier than ever.

On Friday, a record 28,899 standard futures contracts were open or active on the CME. That amounts to a notional open interest of $10.3 billion at bitcoin’s going market rate of around $71,500. The standard contract, sized at 5 BTC, is widely considered a proxy for institutional activity.

Meanwhile, open interest in micro futures, sized at one-tenth of 1 BTC, stood at 38,283, which equates to $273 million in notional terms.

The combined open interest of over $10 billion is twice as large as the peak of $5.2 billion registered during the 2021 bull market and bigger than the market capitalization of several top 25 cryptocurrencies like litecoin, bitcoin cash, and others.

Bitcoin: open interest in CME's standard futures contracts. (CME)
Bitcoin: open interest in CME's standard futures contracts. (CME) (CME)

An uptick in open interest alongside a price rise is said to confirm the uptrend. Bitcoin has rallied 70% this year and the bullish mood is also evident from the 15% annualized premium in futures relative to spot prices.

CME's regulated and cash-settled futures have long been a preferred venue for institutions and other market participants looking to gain exposure to cryptocurrency without owning it. Besides, authorized participants tied to U.S.-listed spot exchange-traded funds (ETFs) likely trade CME futures or CME futures-based ETFs to hedge their risks.

The CFTC-regulated exchange steadily climbed ranks last year to become the world's largest futures exchange in a pattern reminiscent of the 2020-21 bull run.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Omkar Godbole

Omkar Godbole is a Co-Managing Editor on CoinDesk's Markets team.