The main platforms for bitcoin futures

There are now several platforms that allow you to trade bitcoin futures contracts.

These are not always the same type of contract, as there are both BTC and dollar contracts, both expiring and perpetual, but at least the open interest in dollars can be compared. 

There is even a chart that shows how the open interest of bitcoin futures on the various platforms changes over time, and how the aggregate varies. 

This chart lists the major platforms on which bitcoin futures contracts are traded. 

Three of these platforms compete for the top spot. 

Most used platforms for Bitcoin futures

For example, as of January 28th, 2021, out of a total open interest of $10.5 billion, $1.83 billion is on Binance. However, in second place is OKEx, with $1.82, and in third place is CME with $1.71. 

These three platforms have been competing for the top spot for quite some time now, and they alone hold 51% of all aggregate open interest.

Binance and OKEx are two crypto exchanges, originating in Asia but operating worldwide. 

Although Binance only launched its futures platform relatively recently, OKEx has been offering these contracts for a long time. 

In both cases, these are contracts with BTC as the underlying, either at maturity or perpetual. 

The CME, on the other hand, is the Chicago exchange, and its futures contracts are maturity contracts, and are settled in dollars. 

While Binance and OKEx are aimed in particular at retail investors who already operate on the crypto markets, CME is aimed at traditional investors, including institutional investors. 

It is actually also possible to trade bitcoin futures contracts on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), i.e. Bakkt futures with a maturity date but settled in bitcoin. However, their trading volume has never managed to reach the levels of the CME. 

This is probably due to the fact that these futures are aimed at traditional investors, who probably prefer dollar-settled futures to BTC-settled ones. 

Open interest in bitcoin futures on Huobi also exceeded $1 billion as of January 28th, which is also an Asian-based crypto exchange.

Slightly below the billion mark is Bybit, followed by BitMEX, Deribit and FTX. Finally, Bitfinex and Kraken are also included in the chart.

Therefore the vast majority of bitcoin futures contracts have been opened on crypto platforms, while traditional exchanges are struggling to make inroads into this market, with the exception of the CME. 

Even the first bitcoin futures listed on exchanges, those of the CBOE, ceased to exist in June 2019 due to low trading volumes, and very strong competition from those of the CME. 

However, interest in these derivatives has grown tremendously in 2020, so it is possible to imagine that more similar futures will be placed on the market in the future. 


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