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CME Derivatives Traders Betting Both Ways on Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval 



Crypto derivatives trading activity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has been surging in recent days as the Bitcoin ETF hype increases. 

There has been growing optimism that the SEC will approve a spot Bitcoin ETF in January. This has led to increased trading of Bitcoin futures on platforms like CME Group. However, some traders are also using futures to bet against ETF approval, according to a Dec. 1 Bloomberg report

Bitcoin Futures Trading Surges 

The report noted that open interest on the CME hit an all-time high last week. OI is a measure of the total number of contracts that have yet to be settled. 

According to Deribit, BTC futures OI is $481 million as of Nov. 29 but it spiked to $616 million on Nov. 24. 

According to Giovanni Vicioso, global head of cryptocurrency products at CME, many traders are buying futures shorting BTC due to the uncertainty over approvals. 

“I think it’s uncertain what’s going to happen, market participants need proper tools to hedge against that risk.”

Futures contracts such as the ProShares BITO fund allow speculators to bet on the future price of the asset, be it higher or lower than current prices. They do not involve buying or selling the asset directly. 

Bitcoin futures trading volume on the CME jumped around 13% in November from October, when it was 35% higher than in September.

Vicioso added that the uptick in volume and OI is a “clear indication that institutions are moving into this space,” 

However, the SEC has so far rejected every single application for a spot Bitcoin ETF. A spot product would require the issuers to physically buy and hold the asset, whereas futures ETFs, which have been approved, are traded on contracts on the CME. 

Moreover, traders prefer the CME’s offerings specifically because its Bitcoin contracts expire on a particular date. They can use them to hedge for or against approval deadlines or other price-driving factors such as the Bitcoin halving. 

Early Jan Approval Predicted

Nevertheless, ETF analysts and experts are growing in confidence over approval odds. 

On Dec. 1, Bloomberg EFT analyst James Seyffart predicted that the window for potential spot Bitcoin ETF approval would be between Jan 5 and 10, 2024. 

Earlier this week, the analysts increased their odds of approval to 90%, predicting that the SEC will greenlight them all at the same time. 





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