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Futures Guide


A Futures Contract is a derivative product and is an agreement to buy or sell a commodity, currency or other instrument at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future (subject to the Early Settlement). They are either physically settled or cash settled. BitMEX offers several of its trading products in the form of a Futures Contracts with cash settlement.

Futures contracts do not require traders to post 100% of collateral as margin, because of this you can trade with leverage of up to 100x on some of BitMEX contracts. Margin on BitMEX is denominated in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, allowing traders to speculate on the future value of its products using only Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

BitMEX offers futures contracts that have inverse, quanto, and linear payouts. This document explains the key differences between these payouts, and some implications for traders.

Live Futures Contracts

The table below shows the futures contracts that are currently available for trading on BitMEX.

Contract Contract Specs Expiry* Index Payout Type Max Leverage Multiplier
ARBUSDTM23 ARBUSDTM23 details 6/30/2023 .BARBT30M Linear Futures 20x 0.001 USDT
XBTM23 XBTM23 details 6/30/2023 .BXBT30M Inverse Futures 100x 1 USD
XBTUSDTM23 XBTUSDTM23 details 6/30/2023 .BXBTT30M Linear Futures 100x 0.000001 USDT
XBTU23 XBTU23 details 9/29/2023 .BXBT30M Inverse Futures 100x 1 USD
XBTUSDTU23 XBTUSDTU23 details 9/29/2023 .BXBTT30M Linear Futures 100x 0.000001 USDT
XBTZ23 XBTZ23 details 12/29/2023 .BXBT30M Inverse Futures 100x 1 USD
ADAM23 ADAM23 details 6/30/2023 .BADAXBT30M Linear Futures 20x 0.01 XBT
ETHM23 ETHM23 details 6/30/2023 .BETHXBT30M Linear Futures 50x 0.00001 XBT
ETHUSDM23 ETHUSDM23 details 6/30/2023 .BETH30M Quanto Futures 50x 0.000001 XBT
ETHUSDTM23 ETHUSDTM23 details 6/30/2023 .BETHT30M Linear Futures 50x 0.00001 USDT
XRPM23 XRPM23 details 6/30/2023 .BXRPXBT30M Linear Futures 20x 0.01 XBT

* - Subject to the Early Settlement

Contract Summary

Payout Type Inverse Linear Linear Quanto
Multiplier $1 0.000001 USDT 0.00000001 XBT 0.000001 XBT
Quote Currency USD USDT XBT USD
Margin & PNL Currency XBT USDT XBT XBT
XBT Value of 1 Contract 1/Price * $1 - Multiplier * Price Multiplier * Price
USDT Value of 1 Contract - Multiplier * Price - -
USD Value of 1 Contract $1 .BUSDT * USDT Value .BXBT * XBT Value .BXBT * XBT Value
XBT PNL of 1 Contract (1/EntryPrice - 1/ExitPrice) * $1 - (ExitPrice - EntryPrice) * Multiplier (ExitPrice - EntryPrice) * Multiplier
USDT PNL of 1 Contract - (ExitPrice - EntryPrice) * Multiplier - -

What is a Quanto Contract?

A quanto is a type of derivative in which the underlying is denominated in one currency, but the instrument itself is settled in another currency at some fixed rate. Our Quanto Futures operate this way.

These contracts are designed to be easy to trade and understand, but keep in mind as you trade them that your underlying margin and PNL are in Bitcoin. You are still exposed to Bitcoin/USD price risk when trading Quanto Futures, even though the underlying and quote currencies are not Bitcoin.

What is a Linear Contract?

A linear payout is the simplest to describe, and is used for many futures. The price of a linear contract is expressed as the price of the underlying against the base currency. For Linear Futures quoted against XBT, to help users understand the USD price of linear contracts, the dollar value is shown in grey in the Contract Details. This is calculated by multiplying the contract price by the .BXBT price.

What is an Inverse Contract?

An inverse contract is worth a fixed amount of the quote currency. In XBT futures’ case, each contract is worth $1 of Bitcoin at any price. XBT futures are inverse contracts because they are quoted as XBT/USD but the underlying is USD/XBT or 1 / (XBT/USD). They are quoted as an inverse to facilitate hedging US Dollar amounts while the spot market convention is to quote the number of US Dollars per Bitcoin.

This product is suitable for traders who need to lock in a USD value of Bitcoin. If you were due to receive $100,000 of Bitcoin in three months, you would sell 100,000 XBT futures contracts to lock in the Bitcoin value.

Mechanics of Futures Markets

When trading futures contracts, a trader needs to be aware of several mechanics of the futures market. The key components a trader needs to be aware of are:

  1. Multiplier: How much is one contract worth? You can see this information under the Contract Specifications for each instrument.
  2. Position Marking: Futures contracts are marked according to the Fair Price Marking method. The mark price determines Unrealised PNL and liquidations.
  3. Initial and Maintenance Margin: These key margin levels determine how much leverage one can trade with and at what point liquidation occurs.
  4. Settlement: How and when the futures contract expires, or settles, is important for traders to understand. BitMEX employs an averaging over a period of time prior to settlement to avoid price manipulation. This time frame may vary from instrument to instrument and traders should read the individual contract specifications to see when is expiry and the individual settlement procedure.
  5. Basis: The basis refers to what premium or discount the futures contract trades at when compared to the underlying spot price and is usually quoted as an annualised %. Basis exists since futures contracts expire in the future and there is either a positive or negative time value element attached to that expiry uncertainty.

More Information

See the Futures Guide Examples for more information on:

  • Futures
  • Month Codes
  • Basis
  • Calculations