CME Group plans to launch options on ETH futures prior to the Merge

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Major derivatives marketplace Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group intends to launch options trading for its Ether (ETH) futures products.

In a Thursday announcement, the CME Group said that subject to regulatory review, it plans to launch options contracts for its Ether futures, sized at 50 ETH per contract. The futures options, expected to start trading on Sept. 12, will follow the firm launching micro-sized Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether options in March 2022, BTC options trading products in January 2020, and a BTC futures contract in December 2017.

CME Group’s global head of equity and FX products Tim McCourt cited the Ethereum blockchain’s upcoming transition to proof-of-stake — also known as the Merge — in announcing the ETH futures product. McCourt said the group had observed an increase in trading volume and open interest for ETH futures and micro-sized ETH futures options, possibly in anticipation of the Merge.

“We have […] seen heightened activity in our September and December Micro Ether options, which could also suggest that participants are hedging risk around the proposed date of the merge,” said McCourt in a statement shared with Cointelegraph. “Seventy-eight percent of Micro Ether options open interest is in the September and December contracts.”

The CME Group reported a 7% increase in the average daily trading volume of ETH futures from June to July and a 41% increase in the same volume of contracts of micro ETH futures. Trading activity for ETH and investment vehicles linked to the cryptocurrency could see significant volume in advance of the Merge, which core developers expect to happen on Sept. 15.

Related: CME Group plans to launch euro-denominated Bitcoin and Ether futures

According to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, the price of ETH is $1,863 at the time of publication, having risen 2% in the last 24 hours. The token hit an all-time high price of roughly $4,800 in November 2021.