American multinational investment bank JPMorgan has revealed that institutional investors are starting to shy away from Bitcoin futures in favor of Ether derivatives.
In a note to investors on Sept. 22, analysts at the Wall Street bank said that Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) have traded at a discount compared to spot BTC prices during September.
As a consequence, Ethereum-based products have grown in popularity as investors made the switch to the world’s second-largest crypto asset. The analysts commented that there has been a “strong divergence in demand,” before adding:
“This is a setback for Bitcoin and a reflection of weak demand by institutional investors that tend to use regulated CME futures contracts to gain exposure to Bitcoin,”
When demand is high, BTC futures usually trade at a premium over the spot markets due to high BTC storage costs and enticing yields for passive crypto investing, the analysts added.
According to CME data, the 21-day average ETH futures premium rose to 1% over Ether prices on the spot markets. “This points to much healthier demand for Ethereum vs. Bitcoin by institutional investors,” commented the JPM analysts.
According to Skew Analytics, Binance is the industry leader for BTC futures volumes with $20 billion traded over the past 24 hours. OKEx is second with $5.36 billion and CME has just $2.34 billion traded over the past 24 hours by comparison. Binance also dominates for ETH futures with a daily volume of $9.7 billion.
Somewhat ironically JPM’s take on crypto futures emerged on the same day a motion was filed in a Manhattan federal court ordering JPMorgan to pay $16 million to Treasury futures investors for creating false demand, or “spoofing”. According to Law360, the move follows the bank’s $920 million criminal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in September 2020 for manipulating commodities futures markets.
In other institutional adoption news, two trust funds based on Bitcoin and Ethereum have been launched by California-based Cambrian Asset Management. The institutional investment products will offer exposure to the underlying assets but cut out some of the volatility according to Bloomberg.
The firm’s flagship crypto hedge fund, which trades 50 digital assets, has gained 76% this year through August, whereas BTC itself had gained 62% in the first 8 months of the year.