Crypto Exchanges Are Benefiting from Algorithmic Trading: Here’s How

Matthew Trudeau is chief method officer at crypto asset exchange ErisX. The opinions expressed in this short article are the author’s have.

The following short article initially appeared in Institutional Crypto by CoinDesk, a totally free publication for institutional traders intrigued in crypto property. Signal up right here.

A short while ago CoinDesk released an short article titled, ‘Significant Frequency Trading is Most recent Fight Ground in Crypto Exchange Race’ that discusses trading venues giving direct connectivity to their matching engines.

Though ErisX has only just lately launched its spot market, other crypto exchanges introduced their intention to and/or started to empower trading companies to cross-link (a direct community relationship inside the information center as opposed to a relationship routed in excess of the world-wide-web) to their matching engines at least a calendar year in the past, so this is not a new development.

Cross-connects are a common service in worldwide cash markets, used across asset classes and market participant kinds, so the characterization of this sort of connectivity possibilities as “rolling out the purple carpet for high frequency traders” is peculiar. Primarily based on the short article, none of the exchanges that responded, like ErisX, in fact right supply colocation services (colocation is offered by the datacenter entrepreneurs/operators).

Just one of our core views at ErisX is that precision in discussing any essential subject matter is critical, be it institutional desire, custody, and many others. so in this piece we are making use of the same rigor when discussing “high frequency trading,” “colocation” and “data center-hosted” exchanges vs. “cloud-based” exchanges.

Because ErisX is one particular of the exchanges pointed out in the short article as seeking to catch the attention of large algorithmic traders with “colocation” gives, we want to extra exactly define “algorithmic trading” and “HFT.”

We also want to make clear why automated trading can be beneficial to the market and tackle the difference, lacking in the CoinDesk short article, between “cloud” versus “data center-hosted” exchanges and why exchanges hosted in information centers existing remarkable performance and gains to market individuals.

Defining HFT

Significant frequency trading (HFT) has been a subject matter of discussion in large aspect mainly because of a lack of precision and/or knowledge by commentators even in traditional markets. There are various kinds of “HFT” but for this submit we will define it as automation of trading strategies enabled by computers to transact a large quantity of orders in fractions of a second.

Leveraging algorithms, high frequency traders evaluate market problems to manage risk and execute orders based mostly on predefined trading strategies. Blackrock, a worldwide financial investment management firm, did an outstanding occupation of more distinguishing a taxonomy of HFT strategies alongside with their relative impact on market quality in a 2014 whitepaper US Equity Industry Construction: An Trader Perspective.

We would incorporate to the taxonomy in the graphic down below a fifth group of fraudulent or manipulative strategies that are prohibited in other markets, are not confined to HFT, and have been shown to exist, although not exclusively, on a lot of crypto exchanges as we discussed in a previous submit.

In general, automated market making and arbitrage strategies generate increased efficiency in the market as depicted in the earlier mentioned graphic by integrating information and facts into price ranges extra immediately and effectively ensuing in narrower bid/supply spreads, improved price tag discovery, and much less and extra-fleeting instances of price tag discrepancies across markets when an asset variety, this sort of as bitcoin, trades on many venues.

There is proof that the cryptocurrency markets are dealing with these gains on the extra highly regarded exchanges as a final result of rising HFT participation.

In the previous 2.5 several years spreads have frequently narrowed and turn out to be extra secure, and price tag discrepancies across trading venues have turn out to be a lot less dramatic and a lot less regular. The down below graphic from a 2019 white paper Acquiring Bitcoin, released by the New York Digital Investment decision Team, demonstrates this effect from December 2016 via Oct 2018.

So, when there are a selection of trading strategies that can be automated and labeled “HFT,” some contribute to market quality when some detract from it.

It is essential to notice our definition of market quality consists of deep liquidity and tight bid/supply spreads, supported by fair entry, elimination or proper management of possible conflicts of desire, and technological know-how that gains individuals.

Cloud vs Information Center Matching Engine

The CoinDesk short article mistakenly states that ErisX has a “hardware matching motor.”

In simple fact, ErisX has located the components (servers and many others.) on which its matching motor computer software runs in a Tier 1 datacenter facility in New Jersey that providers a high density of major fiscal companies like traditional exchanges, brokers and trading companies as properly as communications companies, enabling all new and traditional individuals to immediately and effectively attain entry to our markets.

Participants that presently have a existence in this datacenter can link to ErisX’s matching motor through a cross-link and our Take care of API. In addition, ErisX gives connectivity to its matching motor in excess of the world-wide-web through Websocket API.

There is nothing at all remarkable about this design. In simple fact, deploying an exchange in a information center provides exchange operators the finest command of their whole infrastructure from community firewalls and switches to servers.

This command enables exchange infrastructure to be precision-calibrated to generate the most dependable, reliable and performant (most affordable complete latency and variability in latency) expertise, endorsing fairness amongst market individuals. Participants can, in transform, precision-tune their trading devices and automated trading strategies market individuals that host their trading infrastructure in a datacenter (vs. the cloud) benefit from the same stage of command and precision tuning. This is a good point.

In distinction, cloud-based mostly exchanges have a lot less command in excess of their infrastructure managed by the cloud operator in a shared general-intent environment, and as a final result can not nevertheless reach the same stage of trustworthiness and performance available by information center hosted exchanges.

To illustrate, at the risk of finding into the technical weeds, a entire world-course information center-hosted exchange may perhaps supply round-journey latency in the sub-100 microseconds (millionths of a second) variety with 99th percentile regularity and the functionality to course of action millions of orders for each second, all with 99.99 percent uptime.

Cloud-based mostly exchanges, on the other hand, may perhaps supply latency in the tens or hundreds of milliseconds (a thousand periods slower) with a lot less trustworthiness, regularity and throughput because of to the vagaries of world-wide-web routing algorithms. Further more, cloud-based mostly exchanges may perhaps rotate the location of the process operating their matching motor periodically from one particular cloud datacenter to another, introducing even increased latency and inconsistency.

Lower and predictable latency enables market individuals to far better manage their risk and pricing algorithms to ensure their ideal possible offers are posted to exchanges developing high quality liquidity. In distinction, prolonged round-journey buy/quote/trade periods ensuing from high, unpredictable latency do not make it possible for individuals to respond as speedy to fast evolving market problems. To compensate, individuals may perhaps quote wider markets and thinner liquidity.

The CoinDesk short article indicates that by web hosting in the cloud, exchanges generate a fairer entry design and/or defend retail traders. In simple fact, wider spreads and thinner liquidity are a detriment to all traders. The short article also overlooks the fact that clouds operate in information centers, and latency-delicate market individuals can locate their automated trading devices inside, or near to the cloud information centers with or without having specific approval from exchanges – fundamentally unsanctioned “colocation.”

These companies entry cloud exchanges more rapidly than other individuals, just with a lot less trustworthiness and determinism than with a information center-hosted exchange.


Automatic market making and arbitrage, the two sorts of “high frequency trading” strategies, contribute to greater quality liquidity and markets, and the performance available by information center-hosted exchanges enables these strategies to far better manage risk and respond to speedy-transferring markets.

In conclusion, we imagine that constructive automated strategies and information center-colocated exchanges offer fair and reliable market performance with gains for all individuals.

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