spot trading

What is Spot Trading? How does it work in Crypto? 

Nicoleta Balan Avatar
Nov 10, 2022
8 min reading time

Spot trading is a straightforward method of trading and investing in the financial markets as well as in crypto. Your first encounter with crypto investment will certainly be a spot transaction in the spot market, such as buying crypto at market price and HODLing it. 

Spot markets exist for cryptocurrencies, stocks, commodities, currency, and bonds, among other asset types. These types of markets and trading are perhaps more familiar to you than you realize. 

What is Spot Trading? 

For all intents and purposes, spot trading can be understood as a trading order that you place to buy an asset at a specific price. 

Spot traders aim to profit in the market by buying assets and expecting their value to grow. When the price of their assets rises, they can sell them on the spot market for a profit. Shorting the market is another option for spot traders. When the price of financial assets falls, this procedure entails selling them and repurchasing them at a lower price. 

The spot price relates to the actual market price of an asset. You can buy or sell your shares at the best available spot price via a market order on an exchange. There’s no assurance that the market price won’t change while your transaction is being processed. The volume required to fulfill your order at the requested price may be inadequate. If you purchase 10 ETH at the spot price, but only three are available, you’ll have to fill the remainder of your order with ETH at a different price. 

Spot prices change when orders are completed and are updated in real-time. Spot trading over-the-counter works in a different way. Without an order book, you might get a predetermined amount and price from another party. 

Depending on the asset, delivery might be quick or take up to T+2 days. The trading date plus two business days is referred to as T+2. Physical certificates were necessary to transfer shares and equities in the past. Previously, currencies were moved through actual cash, wire, or deposit in the foreign exchange market. 

With today’s computerized methods, delivery is instantaneous. On the other hand, Crypto markets are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing for almost rapid exchanges. However, delivery times for peer-to-peer trading, often known as OTC, can take longer. 

What is a Crypto Spot Market? 

In cryptocurrencies, a spot market is a platform primarily available on exchanges where you may engage in real-time trading with other users. Orders are swiftly completed, and transactions are efficiently handled. You can trade several currencies in specific pairs as a buyer (like BTC, ETH, BNB, or even FIAT). Furthermore, these spot markets have three essential components: sellers, buyers, and an order book. 

Over-the-counter trading (OTC) and third-party exchanges are two different types of spot markets. Notably, over-the-counter transactions involve only sellers and buyers with no interference from brokers. In contrast, third-party businesses work as brokers or intermediaries between sellers and buyers. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Spot Trading 

You’ll find benefits and drawbacks to any trading method you’ll encounter. Understanding this can assist you in reducing risk and trading with more confidence. Spot trading is one of the more straightforward choices, but it has drawbacks. 

Advantages 

  • Prices are transparent and solely based on market supply and demand. This differs from the futures market, which frequently uses numerous reference prices. For example, in the futures market, additional variables such as the financing rate, price index, and Moving Average (MA) Basis are used to compute the market price. In some traditional markets, interest rates may influence market pricing. 
  • Due to its straightforward rules, rewards, and dangers, spot trading is simple to participate in. Depending on your entry and the current price, you can quickly evaluate your risk when investing $500 in BNB on the spot market. 
  • It’s possible to “set and forget.” Unlike derivatives and leverage trading, spot trading does not require you to liquidate your position or face a margin call. You have total control over when you enter a trade and exit it. Unless you make short-term trades, you do not need to continue reviewing your investment. 

Disadvantages 

  • Spot markets might leave you with uncomfortable assets to hold, depending on what you are dealing with. The best example is commodities. If you buy crude oil now, you must physically deliver the asset. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, the person with the tokens and coins is responsible for keeping them safe and secure. You may still trade futures derivatives for exposure to these assets, but you must settle with cash. 
  • Certain assets, individuals, and businesses value stability. A corporation that wants to expand internationally, for example, will require access to foreign money on the forex market. Their budgeting and earnings would be highly volatile if they relied on the spot market. 
  • Spot trading offers lower potential profits than futures or margin trading. You can trade more prominent positions with the same quantity of cash. 

Exchanges vs. Over-the-Counter 

Spot trading is not restricted to a particular location. While most trade on exchanges, you may deal directly with others without using a third party. 

Centralized Exchanges 

A centralized exchange manages assets like cryptocurrency, FX, and commodities. The exchange operates as a go-between for market participants and the custodians of traded assets. You must first fund your account with the cash or cryptocurrency you wish to trade to utilize a centralized exchange. You can buy crypto with most major credit cards, bank transfers, or online wallets at CEX.IO. 

Transactions must go off without a hitch in a regulated exchange. Regulatory compliance, KYC (Know Your Customer), fair pricing, security, and client protection are other obligations. The exchange, in turn, charges transactions, listing, and different sorts of trading fees. As a result, exchanges may prosper in bull and down markets if they have enough users and trade activity. 

Decentralized Exchanges

In contrast to a centralized exchange, a DEX (Decentralized Exchange) uses blockchain technology to match buying and selling orders. DEX users do not usually require opening an account and can trade without sending assets to the DEX. 

Smart contracts enable trading to take place straight from the traders’ wallets. 

A DEX gives more privacy and independence than a stock market, which is why many users prefer it. But there is a catch. For example, a lack of KYC and customer service leaves space for many scammers to act. 

Binance DEX, for example, uses an order book mechanism. The Automated Market Maker (AMM) approach, like Pancake Swap and Uniswap, is new. AMMs also use smart contracts. However, the pricing scheme is different. To trade tokens, buyers spend funds from a liquidity pool. Liquidity providers charge transaction fees that offer the pool’s funds to anybody who utilizes it. 

Over the Counter 

Over-the-counter trade is also known as off-exchange trading. Brokers, traders, and dealers exchange financial assets and securities directly. Spot trading in the OTC market employs a variety of communication tools, including phones and instant messaging, to plan deals. 

Because OTC trades do not need an order book, they have several advantages. A big order might create slippage if you are trading a low-liquid asset like small-cap coins. Because the exchange can’t always fulfill your order at the price you desire, you will have to accept higher prices to complete the transaction. As a result, huge OTC deals frequently receive higher prices. 

Differences Between Spot Markets and Futures Markets 

As previously stated, spot markets provide quick deals with near-instant delivery. On the other hand, the futures market offers contracts paid for later. A buyer and seller agree to exchange a specified volume of products in the future for a specific price. 

When the contract expires on the settlement date, the buyer and seller usually settle for cash instead of delivering the asset. 

Differences Between Spot Trading and Margin Trading 

Some spot markets provide margin trading, although different from spot trading. As previously stated, spot trading necessitates the quick acquisition of the item and complete delivery. 

On the other hand, margin trading permits you to borrow money from a third party and pay interest, allowing you to take on more significant amounts. As a result, borrowing allows a margin trader to make more substantial profits. 

However, because it magnifies losses, you must be cautious not to lose your entire initial investment. 

Final Words 

Spot trading on spot markets is one of the most common trade methods, especially for beginners. Knowing the benefits, drawbacks, and tactics is always good, even if it is simple. 

Aside from the fundamentals, it would be best if you thought about completing your knowledge with sound technical, fundamental, and sentiment analysis. Finally, it is obvious that if you are planning to start your trading journey, only invest the money you are not afraid to lose. 

This is because trading, especially spot trading, takes time to learn and master, so be prepared for some failures. 

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