For users who are new to cryptocurrency or the BingX platform, spot trading and futures trading may be confusing. This article aims to explain what spot trading and futures trading are in cryptocurrency, as well as the differences between the two.
What Is Spot Trading?
Spot trading is the process of buying and selling digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum with immediate delivery. In other words, it is the process of transferring cryptocurrencies between market participants (buyers and sellers). In a spot market, you have direct ownership of the cryptocurrencies and are entitled to legal rights such as voting and staking.
What Is Futures Trading?
In futures trading, you are buying and selling contracts that represent the value of a specific cryptocurrency. When you buy a futures contract, you do not own the cryptocurrency. Instead, what you have is a contract agreeing to buy or sell a specific cryptocurrency at a future date. Therefore, owning a futures contract does not give you any economic benefits such as voting or staking.
Futures is a tool for traders to predict the future price of specific cryptocurrencies. Trading futures enable you to participate in a cryptocurrency's movements with ease, whether its price rises or falls.
If you believe that the value of a specific crypto will rise, you can open a buy order in the futures market to go long. Conversely, if you believe it will fall, you can open a sell order in the futures market to go short. Your profit or loss depends on the accuracy of your prediction.
Main Differences Between Spot Trading and Futures Trading
- Direction: In spot trading, you can only make a profit if the price of, for example, Bitcoin goes up. If the price drops below your purchase price, you will not make any money or may even incur losses. While in futures trading, even when the price of Bitcoin falls, you can still participate in the downward move and potentially profit from it. Traders can use futures trading to develop sophisticated trading strategies such as short selling, arbitrage, pairs trading, etc. Additionally, futures can be used to hedge against downside risks and protect portfolios from sharp price swings.
- Leverage: To buy 1 BTC in the spot market, it typically requires thousands to tens of thousands of dollars (depending on the actual market rate). However, in the futures market, you can open BTC positions with a small amount of margin. This is only possible with the use of leverage. The higher the leverage you set, the less margin you need to invest in a particular position, as leverage amplifies capital efficiency.
- In contrast, spot trading does not support leverage. Suppose you have only 5,000 USDT, then you can only afford to buy 5,000 USDT worth of Bitcoin.
- Liquidity: Generally speaking, the liquidity of futures markets is several times or even hundreds of times greater than spot markets. Liquidity also varies significantly among different cryptocurrencies. In a market with good liquidity, there is usually less risk involved in trading. Traders can trade more efficiently because they can always find counterparties that match their bids, and there will be less price slippage. This avoids buying or selling at prices that deviate from your expectations due to insufficient liquidity.