Bitcoin futures trading volume hits its highest level ever


The CME Group posted its strongest month to date for its bitcoin futures product. Bitcoin notional trading volume, for the month of May 2019, reached its highest level since product inception. While the Cboe had announced it would halt its bitcoin futures product, in March of this year, the CME remained committed to bitcoin futures offerings. Both the Cboe and CME launched competing bitcoin futures products in December of 2017, during the peak of the bitcoin market. The last Cboe contract will settle on June 19th 2019.

The CME Group’s bitcoin futures product offering continued to see an increase in month-over-month notional trading volume until the summer of 2018, at which point trading activity began to decline as digital currencies extended their slump. In March 2019, bitcoin futures notional trading volume reached one of its lowest monthly levels since product launch. During this same month, the Cboe, which had seen considerably lower volumes than the CME, announced it would not continue offering its bitcoin futures product.

Beginning in April and May, however, bitcoin experienced a significant surge in price action; the asset traded to its highest levels in nearly one year. Futures trading volume during this same period has skyrocketed, as notional trading volumes over April and May saw higher levels than the previous 6 months combined. In Figure 1 below we diagram monthly CME Group bitcoin notional trading volume since product inception.

Figure 1: Bitcoin Futures Notional Trading Volume Since Inception

Data for chart sourced from the CME Group

Shortly following product inception, the CME began to outpace the Cboe in monthly volumes for its competing bitcoin product. In the figure below we diagram bitcoin notional trading volume at both the CME and Cboe over time.

Figure 2: CME vs Cboe Bitcoin Futures Notional Trading Volume Over Time

Data for chart sourced from the Cboe and the CME Group

The CME’s product has even begun to close in on trading volumes at US accessible spot exchanges. For the month of April, bitcoin futures notional trading volume surpassed the combined volume from the six largest US accessible spot exchanges. In the figure below we diagram bitcoin futures notional trading volume at the CME vs trading volume at spot exchanges.

Figure 3: CME Bitcoin Futures Trading Volume vs Spot Trading Volume

Data for chart sourced from the CME Group and the TradeBlock Professional Platform

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