What are cryptocurrency market makers?


Market makers play a key role in the cryptocurrency world, helping to provide liquidity for traders. Here's a look at their role in the crypto markets and how they operate.

The role of market makers in liquidity provision

Market makers play a pivotal role in maintaining liquidity in financial markets, making them attractive environments for trading. Their primary function is to ensure that there is a substantial supply and demand for a particular asset and a high level of trading activity. This guarantees quick order fulfillment, which is a hallmark of favorable market conditions and lower risk. Market makers set offer prices and bid prices for trading pairs, and can step in as a buyer or seller in a transaction when there's no suitable counterparty available.

Market makers are often large financial institutions capable of providing the necessary trading volumes, but sometimes individual traders can also perform this role. However, the requirements are stringent, and only specialized institutions that offer market making as a core service can typically meet them. It's essential for crypto traders to ensure that the exchange and the market maker are two distinct entities to avoid conflicts of interest.

Market makers provide liquidity in cryptocurrency markets, ensuring sufficient liquidity in the order books. They act as intermediaries between supply and demand for tokens, which allows traders to liquidate their positions smoothly and at short notice.

What are the benefits of market makers to cryptocurrency exchanges?

Market makers bring some benefits to cryptocurrency exchanges. They play a crucial role in enhancing the overall trading efficiency of the exchange. By continuously providing offer prices and bid prices, they ensure a high level of liquidity in the order books, which is essential for the smooth execution of trades. By ensuring a high level of trading activity, market makers make the exchange an attractive platform for traders, thereby increasing the exchange's customer base and trading volume.

Market makers also contribute to the stability of the cryptocurrency markets by ensuring price continuity. They help maintain a relatively narrow bid-ask spread, a key indicator of strong liquidity and an active trading environment. This not only instills confidence among traders but also protects them from potential market manipulation. Furthermore, by providing liquidity for assets with traditionally low liquidity, market makers enable these assets to be traded more frequently, thereby increasing their market visibility and attractiveness to investors.


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How do market makers make money?

Market makers primarily generate income by charging a spread on the buying and selling price of assets in financial markets. This spread is the difference between the bid price, which is the price at which traders are willing to sell an asset, and the slightly lower actual price, or the market price. Conversely, traders who wish to buy an asset are charged the ask price, which is slightly higher than the market price.

The difference between the price traders receive and the market price is the market maker's profit. This model allows market makers to earn a profit without necessarily buying low and selling high, as is the case with traditional trading.

Additionally, market makers usually charge cryptocurrency exchanges a general fee for their services. This fee serves as an additional source of income for market makers, contributing to their overall revenue. The size of this fee can vary and is often determined by various factors such as the exchange's policies and the volume of trading activity.

The bid-ask spread is a significant aspect of the market maker's revenue model. A wider spread translates to higher profits for the market maker. However, a market with a large number of traders and market makers tends to have strong competition, leading to narrower spreads. A narrow bid-ask spread is favorable as it increases the likelihood of successful transactions. If the spread is too high, it can deter traders and negatively impact the volume of transactions, thus affecting the market maker's profits.

Disclaimer: This article was produced with the assistance of OpenAI’s ChatGPT 3.5/4 and reviewed and edited by our editorial team.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Tim is the Editor-In-Chief of The Block. Prior to joining The Block, Tim was a news editor at Decrypt. He has earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of York and studied news journalism at Press Association Training. Follow him on X @Timccopeland.