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Trading 101

Trading 101: Introduction to Currency Pairs, Part 1

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Trading fiat and crypto-currencies involves an awful lot of simple and not so simple technical terms to learn. One of the most basic ones is the term “currency-pair” which comes from the fact that you always compare (and trade) a currency to another when you are talking about the “price” of it. That’s right, there is no such thing as trading the Dollar or Bitcoin or ETH in itself (let’s forget about the currency indices and more complex assets for now). You can, of course, be a holder of Dollars, Bitcoins, or ETH tokens, but to value and trade them, you need to have something to compare it to.

Now, this when it can get complicated and confusing for beginner investors and traders, as sometimes different people mean different things when they talk about the price of a currency. We will take a look at the basic conventions concerning both traditional and cryptocurrencies, and how to interpret the various currency pairs. For those who are already familiar with forex trading and international exchange rates, this article might seem too simplistic, but for those who are new to the field, it’s absolutely essential to understand the basic terms.

The Fiat Convention

Long-term chart of the EUR/USD, the most traded currency pair

In the fiat world, the most commonly used base currency is the US Dollar, the largest global reserve currency. It’s not only widely used to process international transactions but it’s also the guideline for valuing all the different international currencies. So, when someone says that the Euro is getting stronger, it usually means that it’s appreciating compared to the USD.

Now, this where it makes sense to introduce the term of currency pairs, as the Euro’s value against the Dollar is commonly referred to as the EUR/USD pair. The basic format for currency pairs is always this, a ratio of the three letter abbreviation of the currencies involved. We have to add that the major currencies are valued on several pairs against each other, as is the case with the Euro and the Great British Pound (EUR/GBP pair), the Japanese Yen (EUR/JPY pair) and so on.

Also, in some regions of the world, where another currency is dominant, that currency might serve as the common base for the local currency pairs (like the Euro in Europe). The convention usually involves only one way of calculating a pair, although it makes total sense to talk about the USD/EUR pair (and all the other inverse pairs) as well.

Conventions in The Crypto World

The cryptocurrency segment is growing exponentially, both in the capital involved and the number of currencies that are present. The valuing convention is much more fluid here than in the traditional Fiat world, which could lead to severe practical problems.

The basic currency of the crypto-world is Bitcoin, as most of the altcoins are valued in BTC-terms, although Ethereum is rapidly gaining ground, while the inherited Dollar-pairs are also widely used. We wouldn’t cast our vote for a future convention here, especially that having more pairs to trade and value coins is better for traders and investors alike. That said, we suggest always using pairs when discussing currencies, as it could save you and others from a lot of troubles.

Relative Performance

The relative performance of the ETH/USD, the BTC/USD and the ETH/BTC pairs so far in 2017

The key element of using pairs in trading is to understand relative performance. As Bitcoin has exploded in value against the USD, altcoins generally followed it higher, and what’s more a lot of them (think Ethereum) have gained significant ground even on Bitcoin. Translating that to the language of pairs and the example of the ETH token, the ETH/USD pair has stellar gains this year and even the ETH/BTC pair is up several 100%s in 2017.

To be clear Ethereum provided way more profits for those who held it against the Dollar (or want to use it the fiat world), as Bitcoin itself surged compared to the USD. But, that doesn’t mean that holding ETH/BTC is a bad idea, just you have to know that you basically remove the Dollar (so the fiat world) from the equation, so the profits you bank will be entirely coming from Ethereum’s (or any other coins) relative performance compared to Bitcoin.

In the second part of the introduction, we will show you how to use currency pairs to your advantage in investing and trading. And if there is anything that’s not clear, please don’t hesitate and put it down in the comments below, so we can clear all doubts there or in the next article.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 413 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. wizdumb

    June 17, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Kinda like comparing cars running at different speed.

  2. RH2302

    June 17, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Very welcome lessons. I’m looking forward to the next post!

  3. JamesBaund

    June 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    For a newbie is it better to hold them vs btc or use? Seeing those returns on eth makes me think having them paired to use is better

  4. JamesBaund

    June 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    So you don’t really own say 20 ETH coins. You own them paired vs btc? Or you still own them but the price you see is based on that pair? Just trying to understand crypto

    • Mate Cser

      June 17, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      No, you can hold ETH coins, sure, but if you trade it on an exchange you are trading it compared to BTC or USD, or some other fiat currency. Or if you want to value it you will say it is worth say $7000 or 3BTC. Hope this helps.

  5. Iggy1994

    June 17, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Is trading ETH/BTC vs ETH/USDT different? because it all is the same price when converted, a bit confused.

    • Mate Cser

      June 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      The trading profits will be different slightly and in the long run, they add up.

  6. 4feichu

    June 23, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    excellent write up for newbies, keep up the good work!

  7. shay

    June 2, 2018 at 12:07 am

    The graph above shows ETH/USD 4200%
    And the BTC/USD shows 140%. This means that in that point in time ETH was worth more the BTC? Cause BTC is much higher.

    Also can you elaborate more about about iggy1994 comment.

    Thank you

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Trading 101

Insights Into Bitcoin Futures Contracts: Part 2

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Bitcoin futures

This article is the second piece dedicated to explaining bitcoin futures and how they impact the underlying price of BTC.

Periods of Validity

Bitcoin futures are instruments with a limited maturity date. Each contract has its own maturity date (the date of completion of the transaction), after which the contract is considered invalid. According to the validity period, futures are divided into quarterly and serial.

Most futures are quarterly futures. These are standardized contracts for the purchase/sale of transaction objects that are executed in the last month of each season. The last trading day, as a rule, falls on the period from the 15th to the 20th day of each last quarterly month and is indicated by the following symbols:

H – March
M – June
U – September
Z – December

Serial futures are intermediate contracts whose maturity date falls on any other month of the year that is different from the last quarterly. The last trading day of such futures, as a rule, falls on the third Friday of the month. The closing date of the contract is specified in the specification of the futures agreement.

Bitcoin futures present on CME and CBOE and have their own expiration dates:

  • For CME contracts, this is the last Friday of the month or the day preceding it if a holiday falls;
  • For CBOE contracts, the expiration date is the second business day before the third Friday of the month.

Futures Trading Terms

In 2018, direct work with Bitcoin futures is supported on several cryptocurrency exchanges, including OKCoin and BitMEX. As Hacked reported, during the height of the recent downturn, transaction volumes on BitMEX surged to over 40% of the entire market.

If you want to trade Bitcoin futures on regulated platforms through an intermediary broker, you can choose one of two exchanges: CBOE and CME.

Sellers and buyers enter into a contract with the exchange, and all further interactions between them pass through the clearing house of the exchange. Futures trading in Bitcoins consists of three stages:

  1. Entry into the position: At this step, the trader, buying futures, predicts the movement of cryptocurrency value.
  2. Waiting stage: When the trader’s forecast is correct, and the value of the asset moves in the right direction, he chooses the most appropriate moment to close his position. If the forecast is not correct, then the trader must determine the moment when you can leave the market, having suffered minimal losses.
  3. Closing Stage: This is the last stage of futures trading, in which the futures holder sells a contract and fixes its profit or loss.

When futures are bought, the trader pays only the exchange commission and pays the security amount for the contract. Usually, the size of the security collateral is in the range of 4-10% of the amount of the futures agreement. Due to the strong volatility of cryptocurrency, for bitcoin futures, the size of the collateral is always increased and can reach up to 30-50%, but average is 10-20%. The less financial risks, the less will be the size of the collateral amount.

One unit of trading on the CBOE exchange is equal to 1 bitcoin (XBT ticker), and the size of the futures contract on the CME platform consists of 5 bitcoins (BTC ticker). Bitcoin futures is a settlement type of contract, and the execution takes place by determining the difference between the cost of opening a position and the value of the settlement index on the day the futures are closed. Financial indexes are administered by a special party.

How to Trade

Bitcoin futures trading does not have any particular secrets or differences from other trading instruments. The scenario is the same as in the use of other trading tools: to make a profit, you need to predict which direction the bitcoin price will go. You build a forecast for a certain period of time and buy a futures contract.

For example, the most straightforward scheme for using a Bitcoin futures contract looks like this: knowing that the cost of bitcoin will go up, at the time of writing you can buy two-month futures for 10 bitcoins at the price of $4,000 USD. If your predictions come true, and the cost of BTC really goes up, you just have to follow Bitcoin quotes in the market. If during the contract term, the price of Bitcoin rises to $4,500, you can sell futures without waiting for the maturity date and earn your $ 5,000 ($500 profit x 10 bitcoins).

You can get such a profit without Bitcoin futures; it is enough to actually buy 10 Bitcoins and wait for the quotes change in the right direction. But in this case, you will have to operate on the full value of the asset: 10 x $4,000 = $40,000. But when buying Bitcoin futures, you will need to pay only brokerage fees and pay a deposit of 10-20% on average of the futures amount ($4,000-$8,000).

As with any trading instrument, futures trading requires not only basic financial literacy but also a balanced approach to planning, analyzing and attention to details. You should study well all the conditions of the exchange, the schedule of its work, commission, fees, etc.

In order to be able to enter into a futures contract, you will need to open a brokerage account, and each exchange independently decides whether it will allow you to trade on its site or not. Margin requirements are also set by the brokers themselves.

Many trading platforms can protect assets from sudden changes in their value in various ways. For example, on the CBOE exchange, there are such rules for suspension of trading, when the price of cryptocurrency begins to change dramatically. In particular: if the cost quickly rises or falls 10%, then the trades will be stopped for 2 minutes; if the course rises or falls by 20%, the use of the financial instrument will be stopped for 5 minutes.

Futures prices also have different price formations. For example, CME sets prices, taking into account data from the crypto exchanges platforms Bitstamp, Kraken, Coinbase Pro, and ItBit, and CBOE forms the value of the futures contract, starting from the exchange rate on the Gemini exchange.

The Impact of Futures on the Bitcoin Price

There are some concerns that bitcoin futures can be used for aggressive trading. However, if the value of such contracts went out of control, then arbitrators would have intervened.

Bitcoin futures are speculative instruments that allow you to influence the value of BTC without even owning it. Critics, including some from the futures industry, argue that such contracts are premature and, in the worst case, represent a systemic risk, given the underlying volatility of the crypto market.

However, the use of futures on Bitcoin has two significant consequences:

  1. Bitcoin futures, unlike cryptocurrency itself, can be traded on regulated exchanges and this is excellent news for traders concerned about the lack of regulators in the field of digital money.
  2. New trading tools open up opportunities for using Bitcoin in areas where cryptocurrency trading is prohibited. And this will open the door to broader participation in the cryptocurrency market of giant companies and investors from different countries.

Futures contracts will bring more liquidity to the market, which, in turn, will simplify the conduct of operations with cryptocurrency and make trade more profitable. Their use is primarily intended to balance price fluctuations in underlying assets.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.9 stars on average, based on 28 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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Trading 101

Insights Into Bitcoin Futures Contracts: Part 1

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Bitcoin futures

In December last year, Bitcoin achieved an all-time high of around $20,000 USD. One of the main factors that influenced such a price increase was the introduction of a futures contract on Bitcoin. Although the gains largely preceded the launch of the futures contract, they were partly driven on expectations of a new derivatives product being offered by CBOE/CME. In this article, I will try to explain the principle of a futures contract and how it can impact bitcoin’s price.

On 10th December 2017, CME Group launched trading in bitcoin futures, and a week later such actions were carried out by its competitor Cboe Global Markets.

The launch of CME futures has increased the legal status of cryptocurrency and has also boosted investor interest in the digital asset. The key question here is: how can this instrument make you additional money?

What are Futures Contracts?

In the world of trading, there are many different ways to buy and sell assets on exchanges, and some of them are very risky, such as margin trading. Futures contracts are a way to transfer risk, depending on how aggressively you want to trade. This concept is not new, as it has existed for decades and now applies to Bitcoin.

A Bitcoin futures contract is an agreement between two parties to a transaction that buys or sells BTC at a predetermined price at a future date. That is, the futures buyer acquires the right to sell BTC coins in the future at a fixed rate, and the futures seller announces his consent to accept the cryptocurrency on the settlement date at a fixed price.

History of Futures

The idea of creating futures contracts was initially to protect manufacturers and suppliers from sudden or significant fluctuations in commodity prices. This is a written agreement that determines the size (quantity), cost, evaluation (quality) and conditions for delivery of the goods on a specific date in the future. These instruments are traded (bought and sold) between producers, dealers or speculators (i.e., traders seeking to profit from price movements).

The first registered commodity futures transactions for the sale of rice occurred at the beginning of the XVII century in Japan. These contracts also made their way to the United States in the early 1800s when many agricultural products began to be produced. Most of these products had a limited shelf life, and the quality of stored products usually deteriorated over time, so the prices could vary significantly. Therefore, the first contracts for the future price appeared, which allowed the seller to get money for the goods before delivery.

The first American exchange was established in 1848 and was called the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). Its creation was preceded by the emergence of railways and telegraph, which connected the trading center with the agricultural market.

A group of brokers working in this council was able to establish a standardized and more efficient method of exchanging goods, thanks to the launch of futures contracts on the exchange. Instead of managing numerous individual agreements between interested parties, they developed futures that were identical in terms of asset quality, delivery dates, and conditions, and simplified the entire process of buying and selling future supply at the current price.

How Do Futures Contracts Work?

In practice, futures contracts look like this. For example, a farmer concludes futures agreement with a dealer that he will supply him with 10 tons of corn in early August. Both parties to the transaction receive their “guarantee” – the farmer will be paid a certain amount for the corn, and the dealer fixes his buying price in the future.

Such agreements became very widespread, and are even used as collateral for bank loans and can also be transferred. If the farmer decided that he will not sell his corn, he can directly sell his contract to another farmer. A dealer may also do so;  if his plans have changed and he no longer needs corn, he can always resell his futures on the exchange to another intermediary.

In Bitcoin futures, you also fix the price and a certain number of coins that will be sold or bought in the future. It is a tool to transfer or accept the risk. Parties to the agreements may take different positions:

  1. Buyers who have a hope to buy coins at a better price when the value of the asset increases enter into a trade from a long position.
  2. The selling side works from a short position, which will be able to get a more attractive price in the future, having successfully sold its product when its value starts to go down.

On the trading floor futures contract can be used throughout the duration. The parties may also place money in escrow to reduce the risk of the counterparty during the term of the futures contract. This is usually done only when the price begins to show strong movement to a long or short position held either by the buyer or the seller.

Types of Futures

There are two separate types of futures contracts:

  • Physical delivery futures, which are an agreement for a specific asset that will be transferred at the end of the term of the futures. An asset can be any commodity or money (oil, grain, cryptocurrency, gold, etc.).
  • Trade or settlement (non-deliverable) futures, which are a type of contract that involve the conclusion of an agreement without physically transferring the object.

Bitcoin futures produced to-date are the settlement type of the trade agreement since there is no physical transfer of the asset. All financial transactions on futures contracts are a practical tool in trading since they can perform two actions:

  1. Hedging (insurance of price movement risks)
  2. Speculation (the possibility of quick earnings on the difference in the value of the subject of the transaction)

Players involved in speculation are very interested in bitcoin’s price volatility because it gives them the opportunity to open short and long positions several times a week and make good money. Experienced traders who use technical analysis to predict movements in the market quite often make profits on futures transactions with Bitcoin.

In the next article, I will speak more about terms of BTC futures and where one can trade them.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.9 stars on average, based on 28 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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Trading 101

Trading 101: 4 Reliable Chart Patterns in Crypto Trading

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Graph

In our previous piece on chart patterns, we pointed out that the way to use patterns is to judge probabilities that a certain move will happen rather than to view them as some holy grail in the market (which unfortunately doesn’t exist to my knowledge).

Although they aren’t holy grails, chart patterns are some of the best tools we can use to trade the markets with a surprising degree of accuracy. For example, some estimate that a well-known pattern like the head & shoulders have an accuracy of more than 80% when it is complete. Very few indicators can match that!

In this article, we’ll go over the 4 best chart patterns to use in crypto trading, teach you how to spot them in the charts, and show you how to trade them.

1. Head & shoulders pattern

Since I already singled out the head & shoulders as the most accurate pattern, let’s start with this classic chart pattern that most people have heard about and probably have an idea what should look like.

head and shoulders

The head & shoulders pattern generally signals a reversal in the market, as it is essentially a failed attempt of a trend to move higher. As we know, an uptrend is defined as a series of higher highs and higher lows, but in the case of the head & shoulder, the last trend wave fails at making a higher high and higher low, and a new downtrend is initiated. The opposite pattern, known as an inverse head & shoulder, signals a shift from a downtrend to an uptrend.

Since the head & shoulder is so well-known by now, and the logic is based on simple trend trading, it is often considered to be the most reliable pattern in trading. It can often be easier to spot on a line chart as it can help you filter out all the clutter otherwise found on candlestick charts.

2. Bull flag

This is a continuation pattern and is also considered one of the most reliable bullish patterns we have. Sometimes also called a pennant or a wedge, these names all essentially refer to the same thing.

Bull flag

The bull flag is formed when price enters a consolidation phase following a strong uptrend. What really happens when price is consolidating is that the market is gathering momentum for the next burst up. It is a natural part of a trend where those who have been with the trend from the beginning are taking the opportunity to realize some of their profits, while new traders are entering the market and positioning themselves for the next run-up in prices.

3. Cup and handle

First introduced in William O’Neil’s book How to Make Money in Stocks, the cup and handle pattern is a bullish chart pattern that is very well-known in the stock market, but also appears to work well in other markets.

According to O’Neil, the pattern should span a period of 1 to 6 months in the stock market. In crypto, where everything moves faster, this period can safely be cut in half. For the pattern to be more reliable, we would ideally want to see a significant rise in trading volume near the end of the handle as price begins to rise. A buy order should be entered as price breaks above the high made by the right side of the cup.

The logic behind the pattern is the same as for the head & shoulder and trend waves: the cup represents the bottom in the market and the handle creates a higher low, which by definition means that an uptrend has started.

4. Rectangle

The rectangle is a similar pattern to the bull flag and trading channels, where price appears to be “stuck” between two imaginary lines on the chart. The more touches we have between these outer lines and the price, the more reliable the pattern is considered to be.

The rectangle is a trend continuation pattern, and often becomes a waiting game for traders since it is difficult to tell exactly when the price will break out of the pattern. However, the pattern is fairly reliable at predicting the direction price will break out in. The rectangle can be either bullish or bearish, depending on the direction of the preceding trend.

The pattern can be traded either by placing an order when price is close to the lower end of the rectangle with a stop just below the lower line and then waiting for price to break out. Alternatively, you can place a buy order just above the upper end of the rectangle in hopes of catching the trade as the price breaks out. The danger with the last option is that fake-outs where price spikes up just to fall back down do occur quite frequently. As always in trading, taking a slightly more conservative approach may serve you well over the long-term.

Featured image from Pixabay.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 37 rated postsFredrik Vold is an entrepreneur, financial writer, and technical analysis enthusiast. He has been working and traveling in Asia for several years, and is currently based out of Beijing, China. He closely follows stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies, and is always looking for the next great alternative investment opportunity.




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