If you want to hedge your crypto portfolio or take a view on bitcoin using leverage, you have the opportunity to do so using bitcoin options. In this guide, you will discover an in-depth review of the best bitcoin options trading platforms that you can use to trade these bitcoin derivatives in 2021.
What Are Bitcoin Options?
Options are financial derivatives that give the holder the right but not the obligation to buy or sell a specific asset at a predetermined price at some point in the future.
For example, you could buy a bitcoin call option with a strike price of $5,000 and a maturity of three months. Should the price of bitcoin (BTC) exceed the $5,000 strike price, then your call option would be “in-the-money” and you would make a profit. Should the price of BTC not hit the strike price, then the option will expire and become worthless. At that point, however, you only lose the initial investment that went into buying the option.
Options provide a great way to hedge financial risk against unexpected events or to bet on the volatility of financial assets, such as cryptocurrencies. However, it is something for professional traders who have experience in derivatives trading. Beginners should avoid trading bitcoin derivatives.
Best Bitcoin Options Trading Platforms
BitMEX is a leading bitcoin derivatives exchange. Launched in 2014, the Hong Kong-based exchange was one of the first exchanges to offer bitcoin futures.
BitMEX allows you to trade ten different digital assets in the futures markets including bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), Dash (DASH), monero (XMR) and more. The platform has a simple fee structure that includes:
- Taker fee: 0.025%
- Settlement fee: 0.05%
- Maker fee (Rebate): 0.075
While BitMEX is mainly recognised as a futures exchange, you are still able to structure a ‘synthetic’ option from a futures contract. In the case of BitMEX, the platform offers a special futures contract called the ‘limited loss’ contract. This is a futures contract that has a set maximum loss that the trader will incur before their position is immediately liquidated. This deviates from traditional futures markets where instead of a liquidation, you will receive a margin call. In that case, if you are unable to meet your margin call you are still responsible for losses. Therefore, options are a less risky proposition than standard futures contracts.
When you are trading on the platform, you will need to establish an initial margin for the position. The margin can be considered parallel to the option premium that you put up on a “traditional” bitcoin option. However, should the price of the futures contract drop then the BitMEX liquidation engine will terminate your position before it wipes out your capital.
BitMEX has a daily volume of close to $1 billion with more BTC/USD liquidity than any other platform, according to CoinMarketCap. Still, while these futures contracts may appear like an attractive instrument, they are not pure option instruments. Consequently, they may not react well to volatility adjustments and other market conditions compared to traditional options.
BitMEX’s main features include:
- Relatively low fees
- High liquidity
- Supports ten digital assets
- Allows structuring of synthetic option
Deribit is an Amsterdam-based bitcoin futures and options exchange. The platform was founded in 2016 by John Jansen a former trader on the Amsterdam futures exchange.
Deribit has a simple user interface that displays a variety of bitcoin options, including expiry dates and strike prices. Moreover, Deribit is one of the only exchanges that have standardized bitcoin options making it a go-to platform for cryptocurrency options traders.
The platform charges a 0.04 percent fee on the option being traded of the underlying or 0.0004 BTC/option contract. There are no minimum deposit requirements since the size of the contracts are determined by the market. You can view a complete fee structure on the site.
Having said that, even though the volumes are a bit sparse, Deribit option order books should suffice for most traders.
Deribit’s main features include:
- Modest fees
- Low liquidity
- Bitcoin only platform
- Variety of BTC options
LedgerX is the only US regulated spot and options exchange for bitcoin.
LedgerX is able to structure an option for you and find a counterparty to trade on the market. Also, it will facilitate the transaction and ensure that the option writer has enough money in their account to cover the position. The platform offers a range of strikes from $2,000 up to $50,000 for terms that expire in 2020.
The site charges a $10 fee for USD withdrawals and 0.005 BTC for bitcoin withdrawals. The trading fees vary depending on the contracts and expiry dates.
LedgerX is a CFTC registered Swap Execution Facility (SEF) and Derivatives Clearing House (DCO), and therefore, to trade you need to be an eligible swap candidate. To achieve this you have to meet a few requirements including having a minimum of $1 million in investable assets (digital or otherwise).
LedgerX main features include:
- Relatively high fees
- Modest liquidity
- Supports bitcoin and fiat
- A range of options
Quedex is a bitcoin futures and options exchange. Launched in 2017, the Gilbratar-based exchange offers options wholly compatible with inverse futures standard. Quedex allows you to trade and hedge both sides utilising a number of options strategies.
In terms of fees, the platform allows you to earn 0.02 percent for each maker trade while paying 0.03 percent on a taker trade on BTC options and futures. This makes it one of the most affordable bitcoin options platform out there. In addition, you can undertake margin trading with up to 10x leverage on bitcoin options and 25x leverage on bitcoin futures.
This bitcoin options trading platform is easy to navigate and provides cold storage for your bitcoin funds. However, it is important to note that Quedex is currently still running in beta mode.
Quedex’s main features include:
- Low fees
- Bitcoin only platform
- Variety of options
To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.