Crypto Arbitrage Trading – The Pursuit of Happiness
Arbitrage exists as a result of market inefficiencies and would therefore not exist if all markets were perfectly efficient. How does one capitalize on this market phenomenon?
A trader who, in 1970, pioneered a computerized trading system once said:
The elements of good trading are: (1) cutting losses, (2) cutting losses, and (3) cutting losses. If you can follow these three rules, you may have a chance.
This is, of course, Ed Seykota, a former commodities trader. A lot has changed since he first introduced this system, with the onset of blackbox and algorithmic and high-frequency trading, it is harder than ever for point and click traders to make money.
The market has evolved and the inefficiencies that it suffered from in the 70s are unlikely to return. However, while the capital and debt markets are now highly efficient and, for the most part, very liquid, the same cannot be said for cryptocurrency markets. For one, the dissemination of information to the trading community is highly inefficient. The systems that aggregate volume and other data from various exchanges are still in their infancy and most importantly, the size of the trading community is growing every day.
Nobody Knows If a Stock Is Going to Go Up, Down, Sideways or in Circles
Those that have seen the film “Wolf Of Wall Street” will remember the scene with Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio, where Matthew McConaughey goes on to say “Nobody knows if a stock is going to go up, down, sideways or in circles.”
Is trading an art, a science, or is it no different than gambling and simply requires a degree of luck? Whatever camp you side on, crypto markets provide a unique opportunity to make very good returns on your investment. You don’t always have to be a trend follower or a contrarian, the smart way to approach crypto trading is by applying arbitrage models. The problem, of course, is standardizing the API data from the exchanges. While it is not an impossible task, it can be very laborious and requires a great amount of checking to ensure consistency between the different data feeds.
Despite the fact that the cryptocurrency markets are trading with extremely high-volume levels, they are not nearly as liquid as we might think. This market is still highly fragmented in a web of exchanges under very different jurisdictions. The liquidity is spread through various more or less trustworthy exchanges all over the world. The emergence of more trustworthy regulated exchanges has boosted the overall liquidity but has not yet delivered the desired effect of lowering spreads and slippage costs. Furthermore, increasing liquidity would definitely encourage significant institutional investments and promote mainstream adoption.
Volatility is something that has discouraged this much sought after mainstream adoption. This measure is related to uncertainty with regard to the extent of price changes. High volatility is evidenced in sharp and unpredictable price swings, while assets with low volatility will see little or minimal fluctuation in prices over a short-term horizon.
There are various strategies one can follow to capitalize on the potential arbitrage opportunities that currently exist across crypto markets. No one can tell for sure how long these opportunities will remain available, as the broader adoption of these assets by the general public will invariably reduce bid/ask spreads and increase trading volumes. However, for now, one can simply make comparisons between different exchanges to understand the magnitude of potential returns on capital.
The following numbers should be taken as an indication, these are not fixed levels and are subject to change. The price of Bitcoin on HitBTC is 2.55% higher than the price of the same asset on Exmo. Nowhere in capital markets can such discrepancy occur with what is said to be a leading asset in the digital economy and the spread on altcoins can sometimes be even greater.
There are different ways to trade the same markets, directional, technical, contrarian, fundamental – or you can utilize a combination of the above and create a strategy that works for you.
What do you think of market structure and is regulatory uncertainty to blame for such fragmented markets? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pxhere and Shutterstock.