Bitcoin options open interest on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) surged to an all-time high of $1.9 billion, according to data from The Block. Other sources like Velo Data show that this figure is closer to $2.1 billion.

Meanwhile, total open interest for Bitcoin futures reached the $19 billion mark for the first time since December 2021, when Bitcoin was trading at over $46,000.

Open interest measures the total number of outstanding options contracts that are yet to be exercised, and is often a signal of liquidity and interest in the market for the underlying asset.

To some market participants, the surge in open interest on the CME is a sign that the Bitcoin derivatives market is seeing more sophisticated entrants joining the action. The regulated CME is known for being the exchange of choice for several institutional investors. 

Data from CoinGlass shows that the bets are largely in one direction, with 65% of total open interest in calls and 35% in puts. A call option refers to the right but not the obligation to buy an underlying asset at a specified exercise price. When a majority of options are in calls, it means that more people are betting that the price of the asset, in this case Bitcoin, will increase. 

Bitcoin is currently trading at around $42,400, and has seen over $20 billion in daily trading volume over the last day. The market leading cryptocurrency has gained an impressive 150% this year, with much of the recent price action surrounding the optimism around a potential spot Bitcoin ETF being approved in January.