Bitcoin trading can be extremely profitable for professionals or beginners. The market is new, highly fragmented with huge spreads. Arbitrage and margin trading are widely available. Therefore, many people can make money trading bitcoins.
Bitcoin’s history of bubbles and volatility has perhaps done more to bring in new users and investors than any other aspect of the crpytocurrency.
Each bitcoin bubble creates hype that puts Bitcoin’s name in the news. The media attention causes more to become interested, and the price rises until the hype fades.
Each time Bitcoin’s price rises, new investors and speculators want their share of profits. Because Bitcoin is global and easy to send anywhere, trading bitcoin is simple.
Compared to other financial instruments, Bitcoin trading has very little barrier to entry. If you already own bitcoins, you can start trading almost instantly. In many cases, verification isn’t even required in order to trade.
If you are interested in trading Bitcoin then there are many online trading companies offering this product usually as a contract for difference or CFD.
Avatrade offers 20 to 1 leverage and good trading conditions on its Bitcoin CFD trading program.
Why Trade Bitcoin?
Before we show you how to trade Bitcoin, it’s important to understand why Bitcoin trading is both exciting and unique.
Bitcoin Is Global
Bitcoin isn’t fiat currency, meaning its price isn’t directly related to the economy or policies of any single country. Throughout its history, Bitcoin’s price has reacted to a wide range of events, from China’s devaluation of the Yuan to Greek capital controls.
General economic uncertainty and panic has driven some of Bitcoin’s past price increases. Some claim, for example, that Cyprus’s capital controls brought attention to Bitcoin and caused the price to rise during the 2013 bubble.
Bitcoin Trades 24/7
Unlike stock markets, there are no official Bitcoin exchanges. Instead, there are hundreds of exchanges around the world that operate 24/7. Because there is no official Bitcoin exchange, there is also no official Bitcoin price. This can create arbitrage opportunities, but most of the time exchanges stay within the same general price range.
Bitcoin is Volatile
Bitcoin is known for its rapid and frequent price movements. Looking at this daily chart from the CoinDesk BPI, it’s easy to spot multiple days with swings of 5% or more:
Bitcoin’s volatility creates exciting opportunities for traders who can reap quick benefits at anytime.
Find an Exchange
As mentioned earlier, there is no official Bitcoin exchange. Users have many choices and should consider the following factors when deciding on an exchange:
Regulation & Trust – Is the exchange trustworthy? Could the exchange run away with customer funds?
Location – If you must deposit fiat currency, and exchange that accepts payments from your country is required.
Fees – What percent of each trade is charged?
Liquidity – Large traders will need a Bitcoin exchange with high liquidity and good market depth.
Based on the factors above, the following exchanges dominate the Bitcoin exchange market:
Bitfinex – Bitfinex is the world’s #1 Bitcoin exchange in terms of USD trading volume, with about 25,000 BTC traded per day. Customers can trade with no verification if cryptocurrency is used as the deposit method.
Bitstamp – Bitstamp was founded in 2011 making it one of Bitcoin’s oldest exchanges. It’s currently the world’s second largest exchange based on USD volume, with a little under 10,000 BTC traded per day.
OKCoin – Bitcoin exchange based in China but trades in USD.
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Coinbase – Coinbase Exchange was the first regulated Bitcoin exchange in the United States. With about 8,000 BTC traded daily, it’s the world’s 4th largest exchange based on USD volume.
Kraken – Kraken is the #1 exchange in terms of EUR trading volume at ~6,000 BTC per day. It’s currently a top-15 exchange in terms of USD volume.
Bitcoin Trading in China
Global Bitcoin trading data shows that a very large percent of the global price trading volume comes from China. It’s important to understand that the Chinese exchanges lead the market, while the exchanges above simply follow China’s lead.
The main reason China dominates Bitcoin trading is because financial regulations in China are less strict than in other countries. Therefor, Chinese exchanges can offer leverage, lending, and futures options that exchanges in other countries can’t. Additionally, Chinese exchanges charge no fees so bots are free to trade back and forth to create volume.
If you’d like to learn more about Bitcoin trading in China, this video from Bitmain’s Jihan Wu provides additional insight.
How to Trade Bitcoin
Kraken will be used as an example for this guide. The process and basic principles remain the same across all exchanges.
First, create an account on Kraken by clicking the black sign up box in the right corner:
You’ll have to confirm your account via email. Once your account is confirmed and you’ve logged in, you must verify your personal information. All Bitcoin exchanges require varying levels of verification as required by AML and KYC laws. Below you can find the first three verification levels:
Once your account is verified, head over to the “funding” tab. You should see something similar to the screenshot below. Select your funding method from the left side:
Kraken offers many deposit methods, which are listed here:
EUR SEPA Deposit (Free) – EEA countries only
EUR Bank Wire Deposit (€5) – EEA countries only
USD Bank Wire Deposit (Free until 3/1/2016, then $5 USD) – US only
USD SEPA and SWIFT Deposit (0.19%, $20 minimum)
GBP SEPA and SWIFT Deposit (0.19%, £10 minimum)
JPY Bank deposit (Free, ¥5,000 deposit minimum) – Japan only
CAD Interac Deposit (Free until 3/1/2016, then 1%, $10 CAD fee minimum, $5,000 CAD deposit maximum)
CAD EFT Deposit (Free until 3/1/2016, then 1%, $10 CAD fee minimum, $50 CAD fee maximum, $10,000 CAD deposit maximum)
Deposits made using the traditional banking system will take anywhere from one to three days. Bitcoin deposits require six confirmations, which is about one hour.
Now, navigate to the “Trade” tab. Using the black bar at the top of the page, you can switch trading pairs. In this example we’ll use XBT/USD. We want to buy bitcoins, so let’s put in an order. Navigate to the “New Order” tab.
Let’s say I’ve deposited $300 into my account with a USD bank wire. In the example below, I’ve submitted an order to buy 0.5 bitcoins (XBT) at a price of $370 per bitcoin.
Check the black bar at the top, and you’ll notice that the last trade price was $383.17.
Why submit an order to buy at $370 per bitcoin (XBT) and not $383.17? One may submit an order lower than the current price if one expects the price of Bitcoin to fall. In this case, since my order is lower than other offers in the orderbook, I won’t receive my order for 0.5 bitcoin immediately. Placing an order at a specified price is called a _limit order._ Before placing an order, be sure to check the orderbook for your trading pair.
In the example orderbook below, you can see that the highest buy offer is for $382.5 per bitcoin, while the lowest sell order is at $384.07 per bitcoin.
Using the order form there’s also an option for “Market”.
A market order in this case would submit a buy order for XBT at the price of the lowest available sell order. Using the orderbook above, a market order for 0.5 XBT would purchase 0.5 XBT at $384.07 per XBT. If selling bitcoins, a market order would sell bitcoins for the highest available price based on the current buy orderbook—in this case $382.5.
Bitcoin trading is exciting because of Bitcoin’s price movements, global nature, and 24/7 trading. It’s important, however, to understand the many risks that come with trading Bitcoin.
Leaving Money on an Exchange
Perhaps one of the most famous events in Bitcoin’s history is the collapse of Mt. Gox. In Bitcoin’s early days, Gox was the largest Bitcoin exchange and the easiest way to buy bitcoins. Customers from all over the world were happy to wire money to Mt. Gox’s Japanese bank account just to get their hands on some bitcoins.
Many users forgot one of the most important features of Bitcoin—controlling your own money—and left more than 800,000 bitcoins in Gox accounts. In February 2014, Gox halted withdrawals and customers were unable to withdrawal their funds. The company’s CEO claimed that the majority of bitcoins were lost due to a bug in the Bitcoin software. Customers still have not received any of their funds from Gox accounts.
Gox’s catastrophic collapse highlights the risk that any trader takes by leaving money on an exchange. Using a regulated Bitcoin exchange like Kraken can decrease your risk.
Your Capital is at Risk
Remember that as with any type of trading, your capital is at risk. New traders should start trading with small amounts or trade on paper to practice. Beginners should also learn Bitcoin trading strategies and understand market signals.
Bitcoin Trading Tools & Resources
Cryptowatch & Bitcoin Wisdom – Live price charts of all major Bitcoin exchanges.
Bitcoin Charts – More price charts to help you understand Bitcoin’s price history.
bitcoinmarkets – A Bitcoin trading sub-reddit. New users can ask questions and receive guidance on trading techniques and strategy.
TradingView – Trading community and a great resource for trading charts and ideas.