Investment bank JP Morgan said Wednesday that investors are looking to Ethereum futures instead of —meaning there's now more interest in the second biggest cryptocurrency among major investors, according to reports.
This pivot in interest is a “setback for Bitcoin,” according to a Thursday Business Insider report citing a note from the bank. Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) traded below the price of this month, the report noted.
JP Morgan reportedly said this was due to “weak demand by institutional investors.”
Bitcoin futures refer to when investors place bets and trade contracts that deal with the future price of the cryptocurrency and not the actual asset itself. It’s a huge market, and there is more interest in it than spot trading (where investors buy and sell Bitcoin the cryptocurrency) in terms of cash invested. For example, 24-hour volume at , the world’s biggest crypto exchange, for spot trading is currently $23 billion. For futures trading, right now it’s $65 billion.
Investors can get stuck into futures trading of most major cryptocurrencies, but the biggest assets by market cap—Bitcoin and —are the most popular contracts to trade. This is seen as a good way for old-school investors to get involved in the crypto market without having to deal with buying and storing actual cryptocurrency, which can still be confusing and burdensome for more traditional investors.
JP Morgan reportedly said in its investor note that the interest in Ethereum futures points to much a “healthier demand for Ethereum vs. Bitcoin by institutional investors,” referring to big organizations—like hedge funds—with huge piles of cash to play with.
When there is high demand for Bitcoin, futures tend to trade at a higher price than the crypto. But this hasn’t been the case in September, according to CME data.
Investors have instead been eyeing up Ethereum since August and the 21-day average Ethereum futures premium rose 1% more than the price of the asset, JP Morgan reportedly said.
But despite this interest in futures, both cryptocurrencies are struggling: Bitcoin is down 7% in the past week, trading at $44,840, while Ethereum is down 12%—today valued at $3,152, as per CoinGecko data.
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