Why Crypto Arbitrage is NOT a Profitable Strategy

Why Crypto Arbitrage is NOT a Profitable Strategy
October 6, 2022 Nils


To profit from perpetual swap funding rate payments, tap LINK Fees. To arbitrage the spread between two instruments, tap Spreads. Note that the returns offered by cash and carry strategies on fiat currencies are far lower than those on bitcoin.

  • Known as an “automated market maker” system, this directly relies on crypto arbitrage traders to keep prices in line with those shown across other exchanges.
  • As the crypto market matures, with institutional investors entering the scene, doubts about arbitrage strategies become more prominent.
  • Crypto exchanges constantly develop new products which allow investors to create more sophisticated strategies and manage risks better.
  • Any reference to an investment’s past or potential performance is not, and should not be construed as, a recommendation or as a guarantee of any specific outcome or profit.
  • Less than a fifth of the funds in our database employ arbitrage strategies.

Although not exclusive to https://www.beaxy.com/currency trading, arbitrage has become a prevalent practice in Web3 as the market is so immature. Anyone involved in crypto should understand what crypto arbitrage is and why it’s so influential in this industry. At the time of writing this article the premium is still almost 10 %.


Due to the crypto futures arbitrage’s competitive nature, Sarah might have to buy bitcoin on Coinbase for $45,005 and sell on Kraken for $45,015. The convergence of the prices of bitcoin on Coinbase and Kraken will continue until there is no more price disparity to profit off of. The bot will detect both your position in the spot and futures market and maintain a market-neutral position even the auto-deleveraged happened. The price surge rapidly and you got liquidated on your short position cause you’re not able to close your futures position in advance.

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If an arbitrage trader bought 1,000 shares of BABA for $85,000 and sold for $87,000 on the HKEX, they would earn a profit of $2,000. In this case, arbitrage traders would also consider the current conversion rates between the USD and the Hong Kong dollar, which may increase or decrease the success of this trade. Ideally, the assets on one exchange should have the same price as on other platforms. However, sometimes, there are slight price discrepancies, which gives rise to arbitrage trading. As I already mentioned in the title of the article, I’d like to describe the arbitrage opportunity between spot and futures market.

Crypto Arbitrage Is Not Ideal

In addition, a coin can have volume, but you still might not be able to sell it at your target price. The ask price, bid price, and depth can be more important than the last price. And then there are transactions involving small amounts (known as “dust”), which are used to create the illusion of trading activity. Centralized exchanges obviously benefit from their withdrawal fees, which can chip away at a trader’s profits, especially when individual gains are very small as in the case of arbitrage.

Is Cryptocurrency Arbitrage Legal?

Arbitrage is a legal market opportunity. Since software merely automates these opportunities, crypto arbitrage is 100% legal activity.

With the exception of returns paid on some troubled emerging currencies (e.g. the Turkish lira), it is very rare to generate annualized returns above 5%. In both cases, an arbitrage strategy called “cash and carry” can be implemented. Short the basis refers to the simultaneous buying of a futures contract and selling the underlying asset to hedge against future price appreciation. Lastly, crypto arbitrage allows traders to explore the emerging DeFi ecosystem. DEXs and liquidity pools give traders more potential targets for price fluctuations.

Deploy powerful automated crypto arbitrage strategies with ease on OKX

Arbitrage with a market-neutral position and receive the funding rate every 8 hours. Unlike traditional futures, perpetual futures contracts don’t have an expiration date, so that traders can trade perpetual futures just like spot trading. That’s one of the main reason perpetual futures contracts is so popular in the crypto community. According to JP Morgan, the launch of bitcoin ETFs in the US could change the game.

Do Crypto Arbitrage Bots Work?

Crypto arbitrage bots might drive a cash flow despite the market’s conditions because each market always has price divergence across its assets. Automated bots monetize such assets much quicker than human traders.

It should be clear now that Spot-futures arbitrage can be profitable strategy but it is essential to understand the risks involved. I also addressed some specifics and risks that need to be dealt with before deploying the strategy and showed some possible solutions. Also, now that more people know about this premium, regulators are keeping a closer eye on suspiciously large transactions. In fact, arbitrage traders serve an essential function in financial markets. Arbitrage naturally adjusts an asset’s supply on various exchanges, thus helping even out the bid/ask prices.

Tips for Spot-Futures Arbitrage

This includes making sure trades and quotes are as close to real time as possible. This is probably the most important thing to get right in Arbitrage. Another important factor is the tool used for Arbitrage and how is it connected to you Cryptocurrency exchange.

arbitrage trading opportunities

As long as the funding rate remains positive, keep your bot active for at least one or two weeks. The trading fees of Pionex are the lowest compared to most of the major exchanges. This bitcoin trading robot allows you to create your own technical analysis. Fetch and compare SPOT(/SWAP) prices from decentralized exchanges namely UniswapV3 and UniswapV2 forks like Quickswap and Firebird.

Alternatively, you can enter your desired spread size using the “Spread rate” option between the two legs. You can choose between “Cross” and “Isolated” margin mode for your derivatives positions. Meanwhile, the isolated margin mode uses only funds designated as the margin position. First, tap the highlighted menu and then either Crypto-margined to settle trades in your chosen cryptocurrency or USDT-margined to settle in USDT, and tap the portfolio you want to trade. In the case of bitcoin, the curve has historically been in a “contango” situation.

To better understand the risks, you need to understand the funding rate and its changes. When the market is strongly bullish or bearish, funding rate will tend to be positive or negative, respectively. Bitsgap is a crypto arbitrage bot that helps you trade your crypto assets. It allows you to analyze 10,000+ crypto pairs and detects coins with the potential arbritrage gains. Cryptocurrency arbitrage is buying cryptocurrencies on one exchange and selling them on another to profit.

  • You can also select whether to use “Cross” or “Isolated” margin mode for your derivative trades, and the amount of leverage used for greater capital efficiency.
  • The benefits of a CEX includes ease of use, convenience, and a range of trading options.
  • In this case, the arbitrageur would buy the asset at $100 and simultaneously sell the one-month futures contract (i.e. initiate a short position in it) at $104.
  • The futures contract must be theoretically expensive relative to the underlying asset or the arbitrage will not be profitable.

You’re not able to decrease your position in the spot market while the auto-deleveraged happen to your futures position. Finish your arbitrage strategy and close your positions when the gap is lower or negative. But it’s not that much, which you can cover that loss within 2~3 funding rate income. If you take care of the price gap, you might earn some profit from the price gap. With small margins, the slippage would clear the traders’ potential profits. Borrowing and lending are offered by most cryptocurrency exchanges.

However it is profitable to proactively close a portion of the position when the futures premium surges and reopen it later when the premium subdues. In many ways, the underlying aim behind hybrid exchanges is to combine the best of both worlds, offering fast transaction speeds, security, and low fees. Two examples of hybrid crypto exchanges commonly mentioned are Nash and Qurrex. The Nash exchange has been described as hybrid DEX using off-chain order matching and trade settlement via a series of smart contracts.

trading bot

Arbitrage Crypto Trading is the practice of buying and selling cryptocurrencies on different exchanges to make a profit. The objective of this strategy is to earn money by exploiting the differences in value between two exchanges. Typical arbitrage of perpetual futures and spot is passively receiving funding fees while keeping the position open.


Futures markets offer new opportunities for traders and investors. A lot of crypto traders are investing in this type of bot because it is a way to make money without doing any work. The expected returns are usually quite high, and it is not difficult to make a profit with this type of bot.

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The first thing you need to be know is the pricing of assets on centralized exchanges depends on the most recent bid-ask matched order on the exchange order book. In other words, the most recent price at which a trader buys or sells a digital asset on an exchange is considered the real-time price of that asset on the exchange. It’ll automatically transfer some of your funds to your futures account and create a position in the spot and futures market. Before talking about how to seize the arbitrage opportunity, let me introduce the fundamental of perpetual futures contracts first. Transfer and trading fees with tight margins could clear any potential profits. A trader will need to perform a large number of trades to make substantial gains with these tight margins.

We can sell our spot position for a $5,000 profit — minus trading fees. Meanwhile, our futures position will lose money because we agreed to sell BTC for $50,100 at settlement. OKX sells the BTC on our behalf to honor the futures contract, losing us $4,900. So, we have $5,000 in profit from our spot position and a loss of $4,900 from the futures contract, resulting in a net position of just under $100 — minus the trading fees. Another distinction between traditional and crypto exchange ETC arbitrage is that the latter can target centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges .

Today I want to share with you the proof-of-concept of how you would be able to do arbitrage with crypto pairs. Another perhaps important factor for Arbitrage traders to check is the exchange and if it is regulated or If it has a history of hacks. They should also Check if the exchange has good customer support and is responsive to support requests or if the exchange has been around for a good amount of time and has built a solid reputation. You can also add leverage to your order using the multiplier option. Although leverage can increase your potential profits versus your starting capital, it also increases your liquidation risk.