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Some exchanges offer trading on margin. When such an option is available, Bitcoiners are allowed to borrow funds from peer liquidity providers to carry out trades. The term "liquidity provider" refers to those who are ready to deposit their bitcoins and/or dollars with the exchange for use by others for a certain pre-fixed duration, rate, and amount. For example, say a Bitcoiner wants to buy 20 Bitcoins, anticipating that its price would rise in future and thus hopes to profit by selling them at a later date. If the person does not have sufficient funds to buy the 20 bitcoins, the margin facility allows him to borrow the amount required (20 X the price of bitcoins in USD) from a liquidity provider. When the Bitcoiner chooses to close the position, he needs to repay the amount borrowed plus the interest accrued during this time period. Remember that the amount accrued (loan + interest) needs to be reimbursed regardless of profit or loss at the time of settlement.
​Trading these futures instead of actual bitcoins is smart because you are able to access higher leverage by entering contracts with counterparties, while keeping your coins safe in cold storage or elsewhere. Additionally, unlike trading margin on Kraken or Bitfinex, you do NOT have to pay interest on the leverage you have! This is the result of the counterparty structure of futures. High leverage trading, low-fees, and high profit potential.
Yes but ... in cryptocurrencies? If you had borrowed 100 bitcoins to finance your working capital needs a year ago, you'd have financed about $79,000 worth of working capital. If you had to pay back 112 bitcoins today, that would come to a bit over $2 million, a dollar interest rate of over 2,400 percent. (If you'd borrowed ether you'd be paying over 12,000 percent.) Unless your working capital was bitcoin, you will not be able to pay back that loan. The lesson here is: Probably don't borrow an asset caught in a massive speculative frenzy to fund your working capital needs.
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If the tip is valid, it would make Morgan Stanley the latest in legacy financial groups looking to open a doorway for institutional investors to enter the cryptocurrency market. Despite false reports claiming that Goldman Sachs had put hopes for a bitcoin strategy behind it, the bank has a strategy desk in the works, a service that, if opened, would add to the bitcoin futures options it facilitates for its clients.

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In June 2015, the New York Department of Financial Services (the “NYDFS”) finalized a rule that requires most businesses involved in digital currency business activity in or involving New York, excluding merchants and consumers, to apply for a license (“BitLicense”) from the NYDFS and to comply with anti-money laundering, cyber security, consumer protection, and financial and reporting requirements, among others. As an alternative to the BitLicense in New York, firms can apply for a charter to become limited purpose trust companies qualified to engage in digital currency business activity. Other states have considered regimes similar to the BitLicense, or have required digital currency businesses to register with their states as money transmitters, such as Washington and Georgia, which results in digital currency businesses being subject to requirements similar to those of NYDFS’ BitLicense regime. Certain state regulators, such as the Texas Department of Banking, Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, have found that mere transmission of bitcoin, without activities involving transmission of fiat currency, does not constitute money transmission requiring licensure. The North Carolina Commissioner of Banks has issued guidance providing that North Carolina’s money transmission regulations only apply to the transmission of digital currency and not its use. In June 2014, the State of California adopted legislation that would formally repeal laws that could be interpreted as making illegal the use of bitcoin or other digital assets as a means of payment. In July 2017, Delaware amended its General Corporation Law to provide for the creation maintenance of certain required records by blockchain technology and permit its use for electronic transmission of stockholder communications.
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It bears repeating -- when trading futures on leverage, you are not "borrowing" the money, so you don't have to pay a financing rate on your positions. Even though you are 100x exposed, you don't have to pay 100x financing (unless you're trading the perpetual swap, which is not a futures contract, but has similar characteristics). Since bitcoin futures do tend to trade at a premium, you are in a way paying an implied interest rate in the contract, because if you want to go long, you have to pay above spot, so you pay the interest up front in the contract, in a way.
Still elsewhere, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in a footnote, quoted me saying "Just because you mumble the word 'blockchain' doesn't make otherwise illegal things legal," which I hope is now an official CFTC position. And here is Tyler Cowen on bitcoin volatility and Siegel's paradox: "Volatility is a feature of Bitcoin, not a bug, and that is in part for reasons that have nothing to do with speculation or bubbliness, but rather follow from the contours of the utility function." And: "No, a Guy Didn't Scam $1 Million by Selling Chuck E. Cheese Tokens as Bitcoins."
Other countries are not as accommodative of bitcoin. For example, the Chinese government on December 3, 2013 issued a notice that classified bitcoin as legal and “virtual commodities;” however, the same notice restricted the banking and payment industries from using bitcoin, creating uncertainty and limiting the ability of Bitcoin Exchanges to operate in the then-second largest bitcoin market. Then on September 15, 2017, the Chinese government and local financial regulators officially requested some Chinese Bitcoin Exchanges and digital asset trading platforms to shut down by the end of September 2017. In addition, the Central Bank of Bolivia banned the use of bitcoin as a means of payment in May 2014. Further, in July 2016, the Russian Ministry of Finance indicated it supports a proposed law that bans bitcoin domestically but allows for its use as a foreign currency. In September 2017 the head of the Russian central bank stated that it is categorically against regulating cryptocurrencies as money, as a means by which payment can be made for goods and services, and against equating them with foreign currency. Most recently, South Korea’s Office for Government Policy Coordination released a wide variety of proposed regulations which range from the imposition of capital gains taxes on profits realized from cryptocurrency trading, to banning minors from registering on South Korean bitcoin exchanges, and even prohibiting financial institutions from investing in digital assets. These restrictive stances towards digital assets may reduce the rate of expansion of bitcoin use or even eliminate the use of bitcoin entirely in these geographies.
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This course by the ChartGuys “covers topics ranging from market psychology to executing a trade”, as the ChartGuys themselves say. This is a paid course ($149) – however, even The Merkle thought that it is worth its money. It covers long term as well as short term investment strategies, and the psychology of investing as well. Click here to visit the course.
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There's a lot of ins and outs which can get confusing in arbitrage trading. We won't go into the technicals of why futures contracts trade at a premium to spot price. You can read a full explanation here. If it's not of interest to you, all you need to know is that there's a tendency, the further out in time the futures contract expires, for the premium to spot to be higher and higher in nominal percentage terms.
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