After Bitcoin surpassed its 2017 all-time high in December, volumes on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange soared
Over the past 12 months, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has seen significant volumes for its Bitcoin (BTC) futures contracts. A spokesperson for the company revealed to Cointelegraph:
„Over 2.2 million contracts were traded in 2020.“
Each cash-settled Bitcoin futures contract on the CME represents the dollar equivalent of 5 BTC.
The trading hub recorded higher-than-normal numbers as the price of Bitcoin Profit began to rise from December 2020, when the 2017 all-time high of $19,892 was surpassed. The CME spokesperson pointed out that „Bitcoin’s average daily volume (ADV) reached 11,179 contracts (equivalent to 55,900 BTC) in December, an increase of 114% YoY.“
According to a CME Group statement, average daily open interest (ADOI) „reached a record 11,108 contracts (equivalent to 55,540 BTC) in Q4: up 233% YoY over Q4 2019.“
Large players have also expressed interest, as evidenced by the significant number of large open interest holders (LOIH) on the platform. The CME spokesperson clarified that „the number of LOIHs grew to a record 110 in the first week of December, indicating a strengthening of institutional interest.“
The CME will soon launch its Ether (ETH) futures, initially announced in December 2020.
Several large financial entities have expressed strong interest in Bitcoin in 2020, including MicroStrategy and Square, which have allocated large amounts of capital to the dominant crypto.
Is crypto mining worsening Iran’s air quality?
It appears that Bitcoin mining is contributing to blackouts and poor air quality in several Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran
Iran is pursuing multiple initiatives to make the country an intriguing destination for crypto miners: however, this decision could have a marked environmental impact.
According to a Bloomberg report, the energy needs of Bitcoin (BTC) and mining in general, coupled with the natural increase in energy demand in an Iranian winter that has been exceptionally cold so far, has contributed to a natural gas shortage that is forcing power plants to burn „low-quality fuel oils“ to meet the country’s electricity needs. As a result, many Iranian cities have seen blackouts and the formation of „thick layers of toxic smog.“ Moreover, some power plants appear to have been shut down.
Iran is already facing a very severe economic crisis, as US sanctions have isolated the country from foreign financial institutions: the situation is likely to become disastrous if we add to this the global pandemic, with about 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 recorded in the country, and an extremely harsh winter.
Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iran’s oil minister, has denied that the country’s power plants are using inferior fuels. However, major news outlets have pointed to the apparent worsening air pollution situation in Tehran: IQAir calls the city’s air „unhealthy,“ with an air quality index of 171.
Last January, Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade had announced that it had issued 1,000 mining licenses, following the government’s decision in July 2019 to approve its use as an industrial activity. Authorities have since allowed the country’s power plants to operate as Bitcoin miners if they „comply with tariffs,“ have the necessary licenses, and do not use fuels that are subject to subsidies.
Some Iranian officials have continued to work on making the country a miner’s paradise. In May, President Hassan Rouhani instructed his officials to draft a plan for a national mining strategy. What’s more, the number of companies in the sector present in the country increased significantly in 2020: for example, authorities granted Turkish company iMiner permission to set up a 6,000 rig plant in Iran’s Semnan province.