First Mover: Huobi Takes on OKEx in Futures, Opening New Front in ‘Chinese’ Rivalry

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Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi is taking aim at competitor OKEx in the business of trading bitcoin futures and other derivatives contracts, opening up a new front in a longstanding rivalry between the Chinese-led exchanges.

OKEx, which is led by Chinese executives and based in Malta, is the world’s biggest crypto derivatives exchange, with outstanding contracts valued at $1.26 billion, according to the data site CoinGecko. Huobi, also led by Chinese brass but based in Singapore, is close behind, tied for second place with another exchange, BitMEX, at $1.25 billion.

In a report this month, Huobi said it has “managed to push new boundaries against other well-established exchanges when it comes to futures trading volume.” Huobi is already beating OKEx in a few market segments, according to the report, including “coin-margined futures” – where traders can post their initial down payment, known as margin, using cryptocurrencies. Huobi claims to also regularly beat OKEx in weekly and quarterly bitcoin futures contracts.

“Before Huobi launched its futures contract in December 2018, OKEx had the largest market share of the world,” Ciara Sun, vice president of Huobi Global Markets, told CoinDesk in a Telegram message. “Huobi Futures always looks up to the best of the market.”

skew_exchange_btc_futures_open_interest_bn
Exchange BTC Futures Open Interest, billions of dollars.
Source: Skew.

The battle for supremacy in cryptocurrency futures – and China – adds to the tension between the two exchanges, which have been at loggerheads at least since 2018, when then-OKEx CEO Chris Lee defected to Huobi to…

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