Demystifying Perpetual Swaps in Crypto Trading

3 min readFeb 12, 2024

If you’ve been hanging around the exciting world of digital currencies, you might have stumbled upon the term “perpetual swaps.”

It almost sounds like something from a sci-fi novel, but don’t worry; We will unravel the mystery and break it down into digestible bits for you in this article.

So, What Are Perpetual Swaps?

Think of perpetual swaps as a turbocharged version of traditional futures contracts. These financial instruments allow you to speculate on the price movements of cryptocurrencies without actually owning the assets. In simpler terms, you can bet on whether the price of Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) is going up or down without having to buy or sell the actual coins, and you can do so without an expiration date, unlike traditional futures.

The Basics — How Do They Work?

Perpetual swaps use a unique mechanism to keep the contract’s price closely tied to the underlying asset’s spot price. Unlike traditional futures contracts with expiration dates, perpetual swaps don’t have a fixed end date. They roll over indefinitely, providing traders a continuous opportunity to buy or sell.

Now, you might be wondering, how do they achieve this perpetual magic? It’s all about the funding rate. This rate helps maintain equilibrium between long and short traders. If one side dominates the market, the funding rate kicks in, either rewarding or penalizing traders to bring things back to balance. It’s like the universe restoring order.

Why Perpetual Swaps Matter in Crypto

Perpetual swaps have become a cornerstone in the crypto trading landscape for several reasons. First off, they offer flexibility. Traditional futures contracts can be a bit rigid, with fixed expiration dates causing potential headaches. Perpetual swaps eliminate this problem, allowing you to hold your position for as long as you want.

Another game-changer is leverage. Perpetual swaps enable traders to amplify their positions using borrowed funds, which can result in higher profits (but also higher losses). This gives the little guys a chance to play in the big leagues without having a massive bankroll.

Use Cases — Where Perpetual Swaps Shine

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s talk about where perpetual swaps truly shine.

  1. Hedging Your Bets

Imagine you’re holding a significant amount of Bitcoin and a bit jittery about the market going south. Perpetual swaps allow you to hedge your bets by opening a short position, offsetting potential losses in case the market takes a turn for the worse.

  1. Speculative Trading

Perpetual swaps are your playground if you’ve got a crystal ball (or at least a good feeling) about where the market is headed. Speculative traders love them for the ability to profit from both rising and falling markets without actually owning the assets.

  1. Market-Making

Perpetual swaps attract market-makers like bees to honey. These savvy traders leverage the perpetual nature of the contracts to profit from the bid-ask spread, contributing to liquidity and keeping the market healthy.

So all in all, in the ever-evolving realm of crypto trading, perpetual swaps have emerged as a powerful tool for traders of all shapes and sizes. Their flexibility, lack of expiration dates, and potential for leveraging positions make them a force to be reckoned with.

But, and it’s a big but, remember that with great power comes great responsibility. The world of perpetual swaps can be exhilarating, but it’s not without risks. Always do your due diligence, manage your risk wisely, and maybe don’t bet the farm on that gut feeling.

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