What Are Crypto Derivatives? Difference Between Future And Perpetual Contract

The world of cryptocurrency is very volatile, hence posing a challenge to an investor in the money market who has the aim of maximizing returns with limited risk. Traditional spot trading often does not provide enough mechanisms to hedge resulting fluctuations in prices, thus leaving an investor vulnerable to downturns in the market.

What Are Crypto Derivatives? Difference Between Future And Perpetual Contract

Crypto-derivatives can give one an edge in the highly volatile cryptocurrency market. Understanding and leveraging a wide array of products—even futures and options—investors may hedge positions against unwanted exposure, tend to speculate on price movements without actual ownership of assets, and probably maximize return through leverage.

In the fast world of cryptocurrencies, one needs to be properly equipped with the appropriate tools and knowledge. The crypto derivatives provide efficient mechanisms for managing risk and maximizing returns. Investors who strategize their analysis and trading will be better positioned to go through challenges in the crypto market and make good use of opportunities presented; hence, crypto derivatives take part in a balanced trading strategy.

Futures Contracts

A futures contract is simply a written agreement between two parties to either buy or sell an underlying asset at some pre-agreed price on a particular future date. The two parties enter into the contract after specifying two major terms: one, the price at which the exchange of the asset would be made in the future; and two, the date on which this market exchange would occur.

How Futures Contract Work?

Frank, however, thinks the opposite; he is bearish and the price is going to fall.

  1. In case the price increases: If at contract expiry, the price for Bitcoin goes up to $37,000, Mercy will buy BTC from Frank at the agreed $30,000, thus making a profit of $7,000.
  2. Fall in Price: If the price of Bitcoin falls, say to $25,000, that means at that price, Mercy will buy at $30,000 BTC, thus making a loss of $5,000, while Frank makes a profit of $5,000.

Perpetual Contracts

Perpetual contracts correspond, to a great extent, with futures, but without one very key difference: they never expire. Therefore, any position an investor has remains perpetual. They further implement a funding mechanism that has periodic payments between the buyers and the sellers in order to keep the price as close to the spot market as possible.

How Perpetual Contract Work?

Suppose Mercy invests in a perpetual contract at the time when Bitcoin is exchanging hands at $30,000. She buys a perpetual contract, having speculated an appreciation of the asset price. Two months later, provided that the price of Bitcoin climbed to $40,000, Mercy will close her position to collect a profit of $10,000.

Difference Between Future And Perpetual Contract

FeatureFutures ContractPerpetual Futures Contract
ExpirationFixed expiration dateNo expiration date, perpetual
SettlementSettled on expiration date at a predetermined priceNo settlement, continuously marked-to-market using funding rates
PricingPriced based on the forward price of the underlying assetDesigned to trade close to the underlying spot price
MarginRequires initial margin and variation margin paymentsRequires initial margin only, no variation margin
FundingNo funding payments between buyer and sellerPeriodic funding payments between buyers and sellers to keep the price aligned with spot
LeverageFixed leverage determined by the exchangeVariable leverage determined by the trader’s margin
HedgingUseful for hedging spot positionsUseful for hedging spot positions

Leverage Opportunities in Future And Perpetual Contacts

Crypto-derivatives, such as futures and perpetual contracts, are leveraged products that mean the trader can gain exposure to the markets in an amount higher than the initial capital invested. For example, if some exchange gave a 2x leverage, then Mercy’s $30,000 capital would become $60,000, potentially doubling the profit at hand.

What Are Crypto Derivatives? Difference Between Future And Perpetual Contract

However, leverage will also amplify your losses. If the Bitcoin price goes against Mercy, the position will be liquidated if the margin balance falls below the maintenance margin. This demands one to add more funds in order to keep one’s position open.

Initial and Maintenance Margins

The initial margin represents the minimum amount one needs to hold to establish leveraged positions. In the case of Mercy, it is $30,000. The maintenance margin is always less than the initial margin, and it is the minimum collateral that one needs to have in order for the position to stay open. If adverse price movements bring the margins below this level, liquidation could result.


Crypto derivatives, especially futures and perpetual contracts, are tools that help investors be in this market of cryptocurrencies characterized by high volatility. The sub-type of products helps traders hedge against downside risk, speculate on price movement without holding the underlying asset, and probably get an opportunity to use leverage to get maximum returns.

Futures come in the form of an agreement that allows buyers or sellers of an asset to be implemented on a set date in the future and at a set price, thus locking prices as a form of handling risk. Perpetuals function as futures contracts but do not expire, which implies a trader can always be in a position forever. The funding rate on perpetual is used to keep the price closer to the underlying spot market.
They equally provide value to a balanced trading approach, one where other crypto futures derivatives are used strategically.

Understanding the key differences between futures and perpetual contracts in expiration, settlement, pricing, margin requirements, and leverage can help you as a trader get a certain path in making decisions and adopting strategies for the unique characteristics of those contract types.

It is good that an investor should take caution on the increase of leverage to avoid being liquidated in their position. Leverage cuts both ways; it can magnify profit and loss, thus making risk management very critical to a trader. In this line, with proper risk techniques in trading cryptocurrencies and research on understanding the latest developments in the crypto derivatives market, investors will, therefore, be able to traverse the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by this highly dynamic and evolving space.

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