Approximately $15 billion worth of Bitcoin open interest contracts expire tomorrow—the last monthly expiry ahead of the next BTC halving—across derivatives exchanges CME, Derebit, OKX, Binance and Bybit, according to CoinGlass.

For Derebit, this March 29 expiry accounts for roughly 40% the $26.3 billion worth of total Bitcoin open interest on the platform—"one of the biggest in Derebit's history," the exchange said on Twitter.

The groundswell of institutional interest and deepening liquidity signaled by current open interest can't be overstated. Ahead of the last Bitcoin halving, which occurred on May 11, 2020, open interest had only reached $2 billion.

Now, ahead of the 2024 halving, the BTC market is seeing unprecedented levels of open interest in options and futures. This hints at a highly sophisticated and liquid market. Institutional participation has grown, helped massively by the introduction of spot Bitcoin ETFs in January. The anticipation surrounding the halving and its potential impact on supply and price dynamics is more pronounced than ever.


Open interest is a measure of the nominal value of derivatives contracts, like futures and option. Traders use them to bet on the future price movements of an asset, like BTC and stocks, or commodities, like grains and gas.

And the swell of open interest points to crypto traders feeling especially bullish during these final weeks ahead of the next Bitcoin halving, which currently looks to be taking place in 23 days on Saturday, April 20.

After every 210,000 blocks have been processed on the Bitcoin network, the reward paid to miners is cut in half—which is where the Bitcoin halving name comes from. It's an anti-inflation measure that increases the scarcity of BTC roughly every four years and usually also kicks off a price rally.


But it hasn't always been easy to gauge how traders are feeling about the halving with open interest. The first Bitcoin futures platform, ICBIT, emerged in 2011, but didn't attract much market attention. So when the first Bitcoin halving occurred on November 28, 2012, BTC was still very much an experimental technology with a small investor base.

By the time the second halving occurred on July 9, 2016, the Bitcoin ecosystem had evolved. BitMEX had started offering BTC derivatives in 2014 and introduced perpetual swaps in 2016. And not long after, traditional finance mainstays CBOE and CME began offering Bitcoin derivatives in December 2017—marking the first time crypto derivatives were being traded on U.S. regulated exchanges.

The CBOE and CME entry came at an especially significant time in the market. The 2017 bull run had just taken BTC on a ride from $1,000 in January to $20,000 in December.

But when the third halving occurred on May 11, 2020, investors were still in the grips of a global pandemic that seemed to underscore Bitcoin's appeal as "digital gold." This was the first time that substantial open interest in Bitcoin futures and options signaled deepening market liquidity and a broader investor base. Institutional interest had started to pick up as the Bitcoin market capitalization exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.

Even so, the current open interest is seven times larger than the $2 billion worth of open contracts ahead of the 2020 Bitcoin halving.

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