It is not a thing to be surprised that cryptocurrency trading has revolutionized the financial world, offering new opportunities for traders and investors alike.  Two of the most popular trading methods in the crypto market are spot & futures trading. Both have their unique characteristics, benefits, and risks involved. And for you to be profitable in this space? You have to understand these key differences in other to navigate the volatile world of cryptocurrency.

This article will dive into the intricacies of spot and futures trading, highlighting their main distinctions and how traders can leverage them for their financial advantage.

What is Spot Trading?


As discussed in our previous article, Spot trading involves buying and selling cryptocurrencies for immediate delivery without respite or delay. This means that transactions are settled “on the spot,” with the buyer receiving the cryptocurrency instantly, and the seller receiving the agreed-upon amount in fiat or another cryptocurrency. The price at which these transactions occur is known as the spot price or market price.

How Spot Trading Works

In spot trading, transactions are straightforward. A trader places an order on a cryptocurrency exchange like Bitunix, specifying the amount and price of the cryptocurrency they wish to buy or sell. Once a matching order is found, the trade is executed and the assets are transferred between the buyer and the seller. Spot trading does not require any technical expertise, it is mainly suitable for newbie traders.

Benefits of Spot Trading

Spot trading offers simplicity which makes it easy to understand and execute, making it ideal for beginners. What also makes spot trading unique is the immediate ownership traders gain over their cryptocurrency holdings, allowing them to transfer, spend, stake, or hold it as they wish. Without the leverage and margin requirements of futures trading, spot trading literally involves little to no risk.

Risks of Spot Trading

As we all know there is the good and bad side to literally everything in life so it is in cryptocurrency trading. Below are some of the risk involve in spot trading.

Market Volatility: The value of cryptocurrencies can fluctuate significantly, leading to potential losses. A typical example can be seen in the collapse of the FTX exchange that led to the massive plunge of its native token $FTT.

Liquidity Issues: In less popular cryptocurrencies, finding a buyer or seller at the desired price can be challenging.

Example of Spot Trading

Suppose you want to buy 1 Bitcoin ($BTC) at the current market price of $68,000. You place a buy order on a cryptocurrency exchange like Bitunix, and once a matching sell order is found, the trade is executed. You pay $68,000, and you immediately receive 1 $BTC in your spot exchange wallet.

What is Futures Trading?


From the name itself “Futures” implies later date or extended period. Futures trading involves buying and selling contracts that represent the value of a cryptocurrency at a predetermined future date and price. Unlike spot trading, the actual cryptocurrency is not exchanged at the time the contract is bought or sold. Instead, traders speculate on the future price movements of the cryptocurrency.

This form of trading works best for experienced traders who have the knowledge and are conversant with spot trading already. Before venturing into futures trading, make sure you are proficient with spot trading.

How Futures Trading Works

In futures trading, a trader enters into a contract to buy or sell a cryptocurrency at a future date. These contracts can be settled either physically (by delivering the actual cryptocurrency) or in cash (by settling the profit or loss in fiat currency). Futures contracts can be traded on margin, meaning traders can leverage their positions to amplify potential gains (or losses).

Leverage can amplify a trader’s profit and can also amplify a trader’s loss.  Bitunix offers 125x leverage in which a trader can use to capitalize on his/her gains.

Benefits of Futures Trading

Leverage: Traders can control larger positions with a smaller amount of capital, potentially increasing their profits.

Hedging: Futures contracts can be used to hedge against price volatility and protect investments.

Speculation: Traders can profit from both rising and falling markets by taking long or short positions.

Risks of Futures Trading

High Risk: The use of leverage can amplify losses, making futures trading riskier than spot trading.

Complexity: Futures trading involves a higher level of complexity, making it less suitable for beginners.

Margin Calls: If the market moves against a trader’s position, they may be required to deposit additional funds to maintain their position.

Example of Futures Trading

For instance, you believe that the price of Bitcoin will rise in the next three months. You enter into a futures contract to buy 1 $BTC at $68,000 in three months. If the price of Bitcoin rises to $70,000 at the end of the contract, you can buy the Bitcoin at the agreed price of $68,000, realizing a profit of $2,000. Conversely, if the price falls to $66,000, you would incur a loss of $2,000.

Key Differences Between Spot and Futures Trading

Ownership of Assets: In spot trading, you take immediate ownership of the cryptocurrency once the transaction is completed. This allows you to hold, transfer, stake, or use the cryptocurrency as you see fit. Meanwhile, in futures trading, you do not own the underlying cryptocurrency until the contract is settled. Instead, you are speculating on the future price movements of the cryptocurrency.

 Settlement: In spot trading, transactions are settled immediately, with the buyer and seller exchanging assets at the current market price. Whereas, in futures trading contracts are settled at a future date, with the settlement price determined by the market price at that time. Settlements can be physical (involving the actual cryptocurrency) or cash-based.

Leverage: No exchange offers leverage on a spot trading account therefore it is generally not used in spot trading, meaning traders can only buy or sell the amount of cryptocurrency they can afford. It mostly implies for long-term investors. But for futures trading it often involves leverage, allowing traders to control larger positions with a smaller amount of capital. This can amplify both potential profits and losses.

Risk and Reward: In spot trading the risk is limited to the amount of capital invested, and profits are realized based on the actual price movements of the cryptocurrency. Only the invested amount is liable for liquidation if the asset does not perform well. Meanwhile in futures trading the use of leverage increases both the potential reward and the potential risk. Traders can profit from small price movements, but they also face the risk of significant losses.

Market Participation: Spot trading Primarily involves individual traders and investors looking to buy and hold cryptocurrencies for the long term. Whereas, futures trading: Attracts more sophisticated traders, including institutional investors and hedge funds, who use futures contracts for speculation and hedging purposes.

Trading Strategies: Spot traders use common strategies such as buying and holding (HODLing), dollar-cost averaging (DCA), and arbitrage trading. But futures traders on the other hand use strategies such as long and short positions, spread trading, and hedging.

Practical Applications and Use Cases

Spot Trading Use Cases

Long-Term Investment: Spot trading is ideal for investors looking to buy and hold cryptocurrencies for the long term, capitalizing on potential future price increases.

Arbitrage: Traders can exploit price differences between different exchanges to make a profit.

Liquidity Provision: Spot traders can provide liquidity to the market, facilitating smoother transactions and price discovery.

Futures Trading Use Cases

Speculation: Traders can speculate on future price movements of cryptocurrencies, potentially profiting from both rising and falling markets.

Hedging: Investors can hedge their portfolios against adverse price movements by taking opposite positions in futures contracts.

Leverage:  Bitunix offer up to 125x leverage for futures trading that allows traders to control larger positions with less capital, increasing potential profits (and risks).

Regulatory Considerations

Spot Trading Regulations

Spot trading is generally subject to fewer regulatory restrictions compared to futures trading. However, regulatory requirements can vary significantly between jurisdictions. Some countries have stringent regulations like the US, while others have more relaxed rules like the Bitcoin Island known as “El Salvador. As a trader, it is paramount for you to understand the regulatory environment in your country to ensure compliance.

Futures Trading Regulations

Futures trading is often more heavily regulated due to the higher risks involved. Regulatory bodies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the United States oversee futures markets to protect investors and ensure market integrity. Traders must comply with margin requirements, reporting standards, and other regulatory guidelines.

Risks and Risk Management

Spot Trading Risks

  1. Market Risk: The primary risk in spot trading is the volatility of cryptocurrency prices, which can lead to significant losses.
  2. Liquidity Risk: In less popular cryptocurrencies, low liquidity can make it challenging to execute trades at the desired price.
  3. Security Risk: Holding cryptocurrencies on exchanges or wallets exposes traders to the risk of hacks and theft.

Risk Management Strategies for Spot Trading

Diversification: Spread investments across multiple cryptocurrencies to mitigate risk

Secure Storage: Use hardware wallets like Ledger and other secure storage solutions to protect assets.

Research and Analysis: Conduct thorough research and analysis before making investment decisions.

Futures Trading Risks

Leverage Risk: The use of leverage can amplify losses, leading to significant financial risk.

Margin Calls: If the market moves against you position, you may be required to deposit additional funds to maintain your position.

Market Volatility: Futures markets can be highly volatile, leading to rapid and significant price movements.

Risk Management Strategies for Futures Trading

Use of Stop-Loss Orders: Set stop-loss orders to limit potential losses.

Proper Position Sizing: Avoid over-leveraging by controlling the size of positions relative to the available capital. Continuous Monitoring: Regularly monitor market conditions and adjust positions as needed.


Spot and futures trading each offer unique opportunities and challenges for cryptocurrency traders. Spot trading provides simplicity and immediate ownership of assets, making it suitable for long-term investors and beginners. Futures trading, on the other hand, offers leverage and the ability to profit from both rising and falling markets, making it attractive to more experienced traders and those looking to hedge their investments.

Understanding the key differences between spot and futures trading is crucial for making informed trading decisions. By leveraging the benefits and managing the risks associated with each trading method, traders can navigate the volatile world of cryptocurrency more effectively and potentially achieve their financial goals.

Whether you are a novice investor or an experienced trader, staying informed about the dynamics of spot and futures trading will enhance your ability to capitalize on the opportunities in the evolving cryptocurrency market. As always, conduct thorough research, develop a robust trading strategy, and employ effective risk management techniques to succeed in this exciting and rapidly growing field.

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