Cryptocurrencies are becoming mainstream, with investors across the spectrum, from retail to institutional, looking to gain exposure.
The price of ‘cryptos’ like Bitcoin have risen dramatically. In 2011, one bitcoin was worth less than $1 but by 2017, it was worth nearly $20'000 and today it is above $40'000. Since the price has been very volatile, it offers interesting trading opportunities in both rising and falling market conditions.
Trading Cryptocurrency CFDs
FlowBank offers trading on cryptocurrency CFDs with other asset classes in one account. Contracts for Difference or CFDs, as they are commonly referred to, are derivative instruments that enable traders to speculate on a wide range of financial markets, without taking direct ownership of the underlying asset.
The cryptocurrencies are traded as pairs against regular currencies. For example Bitcoin, the most famous ‘crypto’ is traded as
BTC/USD – Bitcoins valued in US dollars
BTC/GBP – Bitcoins valued in British pounds
BTC/EUR – Bitcoins valued in euros
BTC/JPY – Bitcoins in Japanese yen
BTC/CHF – Bitcoins in Swiss francs
There is no need to obtain an account with a Bitcoin exchange or a bitcoin wallet to trade. FlowBank takes the cryptocurrency price from the most reliable exchanges as well as the CME futures prices for Bitcoin.
A cryptocurrency trading CFD example
Using CFDs to trade cryptocurrencies offers the flexibility of taking a position on whether Bitcoin rises or falls without having to actually own any Bitcoin. This means that there are more trading opportunities available, as profit can be made from buying or selling cryptocurrencies.
The main cost when trading a cryptocurrency CFD is the spread. The spread is the difference between the price you can buy at and the price you can sell at. For example, the price for Bitcoin may be bid 6000 / offer 6050, which means a spread of 50.
Cryptocurrency trading example 1: Going long
Instead of taking ownership of Bitcoin, you can place a ‘long position’. Your position will increase in value as Bitcoin’s price increases. If Bitcoin’s price falls, then your position will lose value.
In this example, the price of Bitcoin is $6000/6050. A trader buys 5 CFDs of Bitcoin for $6050. Each CFD is worth 1 Bitcoin (or 100 Bitcoin cents) so the size of the position is $30,250.
If the price rises 500 dollars to $6500/6550 and the trader closes out the position at $6500 (valued at $32,500) they make a $2250 profit. Alternatively, if the price of Bitcoin falls to $5500/5550 (meaning the position is now worth $27,500), once the position is closed, it would mean a loss of $2750.
Cryptocurrency trading example 2: Going short
You can also place a ‘short’ position so if Bitcoin's price drops, your position increases in value and if the price goes up, your position decreases in value. This is akin to short-selling a company’s shares.
In this example, the price of Bitcoin is $6000/6050. A trader sells short 5 CFDs of Bitcoin for $6000 so the size of the position is $30,000.
If the price rises 500 dollars to $6500/6550 and the trader closes out the position at $6550 (valued at $32,750) they make a $2,750 loss. Alternatively, if the price of Bitcoin falls to $5500/5550 (meaning the position is now worth $27,750), once the position is closed, it would mean a profit of $2,250.
Forecasting Cryptocurrency prices
There a two main approaches to analyzing cryptocurrencies: fundamental and technical analysis. Fundamental analysis uses the news and events affecting the coins, exchanges and other crypto businesses. Technical analysis uses only price data to map areas of historical supply and demand for the cryptocurrencies.
Government regulation, the introduction of new cryptocurrency technology and problems at cryptocurrency exchanges can affect supply and demand for the coins.
One of the advantages of trading cryptocurrencies is that they appear to have lower correlations with traditional asset classes like bonds or stocks.
The performance of cryptocurrency firms, especially in countries with high ownership like South Korea and Japan tend to have an over-sized impact on the price action. The hacking and collapse of the Mt Gox and YouBit digital currency exchanges caused investors to lose faith in the safety of funds held in cryptocurrencies and caused a sharp drop in bitcoin and altcoin prices.
Institutional ownership is growing, and we have seen long-term holders "buy-the-dip", bringing support to cryptocurrencies.
Some believe the high concentration of retail traders makes cryptos more true to traditional chart patterns and indications of oversold, overbought conditions etc.
Technical analysis techniques can be applied to any market where the price can freely fluctuate and data is available to see those fluctuations. The FlowBank trading platform has a full suite of all the best-known technical indicators and chart drawing tools.
Trading Cryptos on margin
Using financial leverage, investors are able to trade the markets with a smaller initial deposit. This makes CFD trading more accessible and cost-effective than other investment methods. However, it also carries an extra level of risk. It is critical that an investor fully understands how CFD trading works and has a sound risk management strategy in place before opening a position.
Advanced order types to trade cryptos
Trading cryptocurrencies with FlowBank's advanced trading platforms offers the ability to utilise advanced order types to place trades and importantly, to manage risk. For example, there will be the ability to buy or sell at the current market price or select a preferred entry point using limit and stop orders. These orders will be automatically triggered when the price of the cryptocurrency hits that level.
Read our next article: What are cryptocurrencies ?