The Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Bitcoin futures are setting new trading volume records. Averaging 7,237 contracts per day, the growth represents a 132 percent increase from the same period last year—clearly indicating growing institutional attention for BTC.
Exciting times for Bitcoin futures
Since mid-December 2018, Bitcoin entered a bull rally that took its price up more than 300 percent. From a low of $3,130 BTC nearly hit $14,000 on June 26. The break through $6,000 resistance in May was a pivotal time for the industry, and for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
This month, interest has continued to grow from institutional investors. The CME had its most successful month yet for Bitcoin futures, according to, Tim McCourt, CME Group’s managing director in an interview with Forbes.
“[In May, Bitcoin futures were] trading an average of more than 13,600 contracts each day, equal to ~$515 million in notional value or 68K equivalent Bitcoin. On May 13, BTC traded a record single-day volume of 33,677 contracts (168K equivalent Bitcoin or $1.3B notional),” said McCourt.
The global head of equity index and alternative investment products at CME believes that “this is an exciting time for Bitcoin futures” and for the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.
“There is a lot of broad investor interest in cryptocurrency, as well as growing interest in a variety of applications for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. It will be interesting to see how this new market continues to grow and scale,” said McCourt.
Regardless of the direction of the market, the CME Group seems committed to continue providing crypto-related trading products as well as educational tools to its customers, allowing them to make better strategic decisions.
“It’s important to remember that CME Group is a neutral marketplace. Our role is to help Bitcoin market participants manage their risk, regardless of whether the underlying price goes up or down. We’re pleased with the growth of CME Group Bitcoin futures so far,” added McCourt.
CME’s impact on the Bitcoin markets
Although Tim McCourt did not comment on the impact that the expiration (settlement) of CME Bitcoin futures have on the cryptocurrency market, many analysts in the crypto community believe they tend to influence the price of Bitcoin. In fact, there are those, like Josh Olszewicz, who believe it was one of the main catalysts for the bear market that began in December 2017.
Olszewicz recently explained that there is a close correlation between the expiration dates on CME futures contracts and BTC’s price action.
Now, about 50 percent of the open interest for CME Bitcoin futures are set to expire by the end of the week, signaling a high period of volatility, according to one anonymous analyst.
Despite the probability for high volatility, the Coinist Podcast host Luke Martin explained that the “always dump before and always pump after” narrative is not always correct. In fact, returns have generally been negative leading into the expiration date and positive after it, but the last two expirations were not like that, added Martin.
CME $BTC Futures expiration tomorrow.
Seen quite a few tweets speculating that we always dump before & pump after.
Here's how the historical returns around CME futures expiry stack up…
>so t= -1 is "daily change into expiry day"
>t= 2 is "return 2 days after" pic.twitter.com/qSRBCFWFdU
— Luke Martin (@VentureCoinist) August 29, 2019
As the expiration date for CME Bitcoin futures approaches, in conjunction with the launch of Bakkt’s Bitcoin-settled futures, it remains to be seen if it will bring the volatility needed for Bitcoin to break out of the consolidation phase that it entered nearly two months ago.