Unpacking: “What is a crypto Derivative” An Introduction for Beginners

Unpacking: "What is a crypto Derivative" An Introduction for Beginners


What is a crypto Derivative? These financial margin contracts derive their value from an underlying cryptocurrency asset. Cryptocurrency derivatives are very popular among traders and investors, allowing users to benefit from price fluctuations in the market without owning the underlying assets. To prevent the entire asset from collapsing, traders and investors should acquire practical experience and in-depth knowledge of cryptocurrency market price movements.

The three main ways cryptocurrency derivatives are traded and invested are futures, options, and margins. Exchanges for cryptocurrencies like Binance, OKX, KoCoin, and others are used for trading cryptocurrency derivatives. Among options, margin, and futures: futures trading is hazardous. The availability of cryptocurrency derivatives has provided new opportunities for traders and investors to earn potential profits in the cryptocurrency market. The popularity of crypto derivatives has spurred innovation in the financial sector, boosting market liquidity and transparency.

How do crypto derivatives work?

The value of a cryptocurrency derivative is derived from the underlying cryptocurrency asset, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. Without owning the underlying asset, traders and investors can monitor price changes for potential gains. Based on his experience, a trader or investor decides or forecasts for the future and then professionally implements that decision. A detailed review follows.

What is a crypto Derivative

Four types of cryptocurrency derivatives 

Crypto derivatives come in various forms, such as futures, options, swaps, and margins. Different derivatives operate differently, but they all generally let traders wager on the future price of the original cryptocurrency coins. Following are the four main categories of cryptocurrency derivatives: 

1. Futures Contracts

Traders enter into contracts known as futures in which they agree to buy or sell a specific cryptocurrency at a specified price and future date. Futures contracts are popular among traders with practical trading experience, who keep a close eye on the cryptocurrency market and attempt to profit from swings in cryptocurrency prices.


For example, a trader might purchase a Bitcoin futures contract for $50,000 with a one-month expiration date. If the price of Bitcoin rises to $50,000 or more before the trade expires, the investor can close the trade with some money. If the price drops, the trader will face two possibilities: Sell or Hold if he can sell the contract with lesson loss, or if he holds, wait for the recovery of the underlying asset; otherwise, the contract leads to a wash account. 

2. Options Contracts

Options contracts allow the holder to sell or buy a specific cryptocurrency asset at a future date at a predetermined price. The two types of options are call options and put options. In contrast, call options authorize the trader or investor to purchase a digital asset at a specified price. And put options that authorize the trader or investor to sell a digital asset at a predecided value. 


For example, a trader can purchase a call option, “Bitcoin,” with a $60,000 strike price and a one-month expiration date. The investor can use the opportunity to buy Bitcoin at the lower strike price and get a profit if the price of Bitcoin increases above $60,000 before the expiration date. The buyer can let the option expire if the price is lower and will only lose the option premium.

3. Swaps

Swaps are contracts among two business groups to transact cash based on the potential value of a specific cryptocurrency asset. Institutional investors frequently use swaps to gain cryptocurrency exposure without owning or hedging their positions. In a swap, two parties agree to swap the difference in an asset’s price between the time the contract is signed and when it expires, such as the price of Bitcoin.


For example, two parties could agree to a $1 million notional Bitcoin swap. One party pays the other $100,000 if the price of Bitcoin increases by 10% during the contract duration. 

4. CFD

CFDs are agreements between a trader and a broker to pay the difference in cryptocurrency price between the contract’s opening and closing.


For example, a trader can enter a $10,000 notional Bitcoin CFD with a broker. The trader pays the broker $500 if the price of Bitcoin increases by 5% during the contract duration.

Unpacking: "What is a crypto Derivative" An Introduction for Beginners

Purpose of crypto derivatives’ creation

Crypto derivatives were developed to give people new financial tools for managing cryptocurrency risks. Several factors influenced the development of cryptocurrency derivatives, including volatility, liquidity, market demand, and innovation. 


The cryptocurrency market can be difficult for some traders due to its high volatility. Traders use derivatives to make extra money because of their helpful expertise in risk management.


The presence of derivatives on cryptocurrency exchanges has increased market liquidity, facilitated trader entry and exit, and stabilize prices.

Market Demand

The need for traders to introduce derivatives and leveraged instruments increased significantly with the changing cryptocurrency market and technological environment. Investors can gain easier market access and greater returns thanks to products.


The development of cryptocurrency derivatives, made possible by technological innovation and derivatives, allows traders to make more money with less risk.

Pros of trading cryptocurrency derivatives

Increased leverage, better risk management, accessibility to various markets, transparency, and round-the-clock trading are benefits of trading cryptocurrency derivatives. It is important to remember that trading in derivatives carries additional risks, so investors should proceed cautiously.

Increased Leverage

With the help of crypto derivatives, traders can increase their leverage and switch to a more prominent position for a minor crypto asset. Higher potential profits may result from this, but it’s essential to remember that higher risk is also involved.

Risk Management

Trading cryptocurrency derivatives teaches traders risk management techniques outside of products and leveraged trading, which enables them to effectively manage their risks by safeguarding their trading positions. Risk management can help to protect their investments and reduce losses in volatile markets.

Access to Different Markets

Users can access the cryptocurrency exchanges and their pairs, such as BTCUSDT, ETHBTC, LINKDOT, and DOTETH. Cryptocurrency derivatives make these pairs possible, opening up opportunities for higher profits.


Centralized exchanges offer transparency and real-time prices for coins and tokens. CEXs have a user-friendly interface, a transparent structure, data, a team, and other valuable resources.

24/7 Trading

The cryptocurrency market is open continuously, unlike conventional financial markets. Traders have more flexibility and potential opportunities since they can trade cryptocurrency derivatives anytime.

Cons of crypto derivative trading

When users trade derivatives on the cryptocurrency market, it carries a high counterparty risk because it is a complex and volatile market. Before entering the market, traders should use caution when engaging in derivative trading and carefully consider their risk appetite and investment objectives. There are several cons to crypto derivative trading, as follows: 

High Risk

Derivative trading is hazardous because it uses borrowed cryptocurrency funds to trade on cryptos. This results in higher potential profits and losses, leading to coins losing all their value.


Due to the high volatility of the cryptocurrency market, there may be rapid price swings that may be a risk for traders if their positions go against them. Trading in derivatives can increase this volatility, and if the market moves against the trader’s position, it could result in sizable losses.

Lack of Regulation

Since there may not be suitable investor protection regarding the regulations of the crypto industry, the cryptocurrency market is unregulated in most countries. 


Trading derivatives can be challenging for users because learning is complex, and achieving success requires extensive training and experience. It might be difficult for new traders to enter the market because they can lose their money if trades are not executed correctly.

Counterparty Risk

Since derivative contracts are typically traded with counterparties, the counterparty may need to help fulfilling its end of the bargain. Traders incur losses, particularly when the market declines or the counterparty defaults.

Conclusion: What is a crypto Derivative

What is a crypto derivative? A new class of financial contracts is called “crypto derivatives.” It enables traders and investors to manage their risks and get cryptocurrency exposure. These contracts improve market liquidity and transparency while giving investors new opportunities to earn higher crypto profits. However, trading derivatives carries a high level of risk, substantial training, and experience. The need for regulation in the cryptocurrency market raises concerns about investor protection and market integrity. Crypto derivatives are subject to volatility and counterparty risk.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is Coinbase a derivative?

It is a cryptocurrency exchange, including a spot market and derivatives market, where users can trade and hold cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other Altcoins. Additionally, it offers merchant payment options, wallet services, and other cryptocurrency-related services. Through its Coinbase Pro platform, which enables users to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum futures contracts, Coinbase does provide some derivative trading services. 

2. Can you buy derivatives on crypto?

Yes, you can buy derivatives on crypto. Trading in cryptocurrency derivatives, such as futures, options, swaps, and contracts for difference (CFDs), is available on several exchanges and platforms. It is to open an account with a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange or platform, deposit some crypto money (USDT), and then place an order to buy the desired derivative contracts to purchase cryptocurrency derivatives. Cryptocurrency derivatives are risky contracts that might not be appropriate for all investors. Before trading cryptocurrency derivatives, it’s critical to understand the risks involved and always use prudent risk management.

3. What are crypto derivatives at decentralized exchanges?

Without owning the underlying assets, traders can speculate on future price movements of cryptocurrencies using crypto derivatives, which are traded on decentralized exchanges (DEXs). These are based on blockchain technology and employ smart contracts for products. Smart contracts automatically complete transactions on the blockchain and efficiently complete the contract settlement at the end, following the trader’s needs.

4. When did crypto derivatives start?

In 2011, a company by the name of ICAP introduced Bitcoin options for institutional investors, marking the debut of the first cryptocurrency derivatives. However, cryptocurrency derivatives did not receive attention until the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) introduced the first “Bitcoin futures contract” in December 2017. Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) started to offer cryptocurrency derivatives; the first DEX to do so was the IDEX exchange in 2018. Since then, several additional DEXs have appeared, including Uniswap, SushiSwap, and PancakeSwap. These DEXs provide various cryptocurrency derivatives, including perpetual swaps, options, and futures contracts.