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Novel institutional interest in physically holding Bitcoin

Institutional Trading Venues

There are two main venues when it comes to institutional investors looking to remain within a liquid and regulated space: CME & Bakkt. While both offer Bitcoin futures, there is a difference between the two.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange

CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange), which had the highest volume for the longest time, offers cash-settled BTC futures. Meaning the PnL of trades is calculated in fiat (USD) and hence traders on the CME are just speculating on the price of Bitcoin and looking to benefit from the highly volatile nature of this asset.

Volumes remain superior there as well as the open interest which has been setting record highs ($700M+). Known funds such as Renaissance Technologies have recently joined to trade Bitcoin there.

Bakkt

Bakkt is newer to the crypto-scene than the CME is. However, since their launch they have struggled to catch any significant traction and open interests remained in the low 8 figures range.

The difference is that Bakkt offers physically-settled futures and that is their main unique selling point for institutions. This means the PnL is calculated in terms of BTC and traders get paid in BTC.

Changes to the Scene

Up until a few days ago, there’s been very little interest on Bakkt and a lot on the CME because everyone wants to make money off this highly-volatile asset but no one really believed in it to hold it and get paid in it.

The reason behind this surge in volume may be related to the recent surge in risk-off assets such as Gold and Silver with Bitcoin having become close to that narrative as well. Inflation seems to be scaring investors and as speculated by Paul Tudor Jones, Bitcoin may in fact end up being the fastest horse.

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