Bitcoin futures volume hit a 21-month low in August, as ether volume surged

Quick Take

  • Bitcoin futures trading volume across exchanges for August came in at $941.5 billion.
  • This was bitcoin’s lowest month by trading volume since November 2020.
  • Ether, meanwhile, surged in volume as traders placed bets on The Merge.

Bitcoin futures trading volume, in dollar terms, clocked its lowest levels since November 2020 in August. 

According to The Block Research data dashboard bitcoin futures trading volume for August came in at $941.5 billion across exchanges. That's the first month it was under $1 trillion since December 2020 — when volumes were $970.1 billion — and the lowest since November 2020, when volumes were $779 billion. 

The drop in bitcoin futures volume came as trading in ether futures boomed ahead of The Merge: a September date for Ethereum's big move to proof of stake were confirmed last month.

BlockFi's trading commentary on Monday noted the forward curve for ether futures continues to be impacted by The Merge. "We see September futures at -16% basis on Deribit as market continues to maintain a long spot vs. short forwards position into The Merge," it read. 

Ether futures crossed $1 trillion for the first time since May 2021, when they reached $1.64 trillion. Trading volumes for the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap were $1.05 trillion in August, up from $934.9 billion in July.


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Meanwhile, a significant number of cryptocurrencies closed the month down. Bitcoin shed 14%, while ether fell 4.7% since August 1.

The 21Shares research team noted in its monthly review that there were $950 million worth of liquidations from the crypto futures market over the last two consecutive weekends in August, which may have escalated the downward trend of bitcoin and the broader market.

"Over $600m of long and short positions were liquidated on August 19 following the meeting minutes of the Federal Reserve and over $350m was liquidated following Jerome Powell’s speech announcing hawkish measures to tame inflation," the team wrote.

Finally, the global crypto market cap fell below $1 trillion during the month, having started out at around $1.1 trillion. It currently sits at $1.02 trillion per CoinGecko data.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Adam Morgan is a reporter covering cryptocurrency, financial markets, and economics – anything from price movements, earnings reports, and inflation to the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate decisions and everything in between. Adam is based in London.