Derivatives are financial instruments that are widely used and popular. They have various purposes, including risk hedging. For example, if an investor wants to buy an asset, they can enter into a derivatives contract that specifies the purchase price. This helps protect them from potential changes in the asset’s value.
However, derivatives markets are also highly favored for speculative purposes. Instead of owning the actual asset, traders speculate on its future value. The widespread use of derivatives, especially those related to mortgage lending, played a significant role in the financial crisis.
Nevertheless, derivatives still have practical applications and are increasingly used in the cryptocurrency realm. Crypto derivatives can be used for speculative profit, similar to derivatives based on fiat currencies. However, the most significant long-term advantage of crypto derivatives lies in risk hedging.
A notable example of this is the widespread introduction of Bitcoin futures in 2017. Many individuals in the crypto community believe that for Bitcoin to achieve mass adoption as a store of value, it must offer investors a way to reduce risk. While volatile price fluctuations present opportunities for speculators, they can discourage risk-averse investors. The launch of Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Board Options Exchange was considered a significant milestone as it provided institutional investors with a way to protect against these fluctuations.
Crypto derivatives are readily available on major crypto exchanges, and there are efforts to expand derivatives offerings on traditional global exchanges like Nasdaq.