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Perpetual Futures Crypto: Everything from What They Are to Benefits and Risks (2024)

The world of cryptocurrency trading offers a vast array of options, and futures contracts are a popular way to speculate on price movements. 

But within the realm of futures contracts, a unique breed has emerged: perpetual futures. 

Are you intrigued about them? This article dives deep into the world of perpetual futures, explaining their mechanics, benefits, and potential drawbacks so you can decide if they’re the right fit for your trading strategy.

What are Perpetual Futures Crypto?

Perpetual futures crypto, also known as perpetual swaps, are a type of crypto derivative contract that allows you to speculate on the price of a cryptocurrency without an expiry date. 

It’s different from a traditional futures contract in a few key ways:

  • Never-Ending Contract – Unlike traditional futures that expire on a specific date, perpetual futures can be held indefinitely. This means you don’t need to worry about constantly rolling over your contracts to maintain your position.
  • Funding Mechanism – To keep the price of the perpetual futures contract close to the underlying cryptocurrency’s spot price (the current market price), a funding mechanism is used. This means traders who hold long positions (betting the price will go up) might pay a small fee to those holding short positions (betting the price will go down) or vice versa, depending on the market conditions.

How Perpetual Futures Crypto Work Practically?

Imagine you want to bet on the future price of Bitcoin. With a traditional futures contract, you’d agree to buy or sell Bitcoin at a set price by a certain date. With perpetual futures, it’s like making a continuous bet – there’s no set date to settle the contract.

Key Components of a Perpetual Futures Contract in Crypto

Key components of a perpetual futures contract include long and short positions, contract size, and funding rate. However, delving deeper into the concept reveals additional elements essential for a comprehensive understanding:

  • Index price – This denotes the market value of the underlying asset of the futures product. For instance, in a Bitcoin perpetual futures contract, the index price corresponds to the prevailing BTC market price, calculated as a weighted average across various exchanges.
  • Mark price – Calculated using the index price and funding rate, the mark price serves as the fair value of an open futures position. It determines unrealized gains or losses for traders and establishes the liquidation threshold.
  • Spot price – Representing the instantaneous value of the asset available for immediate sale.
  • Future price – Anticipated selling price of the futures contract, which may differ from the index price due to speculative factors.
  • Open positions – Unsettled futures contracts that remain active and adequately funded.
  • Trading positions – Collective representation of both active and closed positions within a trading portfolio.
  • Open interest – A critical metric indicating the total number of outstanding perpetual futures contracts for a specific asset, shedding light on market activity and sentiment.

Why Do People Use Perpetual Futures Crypto? Benefits of Perpetual Futures Crypto

  • Speculation – Just like traditional futures, you can use perpetual futures to speculate on the price movement of a cryptocurrency, aiming to profit if your prediction is correct.
  • Hedging – You can use perpetual futures to hedge your existing crypto holdings. For example, if you own Bitcoin and are worried about a price drop, you can take a short position on a perpetual futures contract to potentially offset some losses.
  • Leverage – Many exchanges and crypto futures trading platforms allow leverage when trading perpetual futures, meaning you can control a larger position with a smaller amount of capital. However, this also amplifies both your potential profits and losses, so it’s crucial to use leverage cautiously.
  • Funding Mechanism Keeps Things Balanced – Perpetual futures contracts aim to mirror the price movements of the underlying cryptocurrency (spot price). A funding mechanism is employed to achieve this. This means traders holding long or short positions may pay a small fee to the opposing side depending on market conditions. This helps maintain price parity between the perpetual futures contract and the spot market.

Why Some Traders Don’t Use Perpetual Futures Crypto? Risks of Perpetual Futures Crypto

  • High Risk and Volatility – Along with the potential to make a huge profit, there is the risk of losing a significant portion of your assets because of price fluctuations. The crypto market is inherently volatile, and perpetual futures contracts magnify this volatility due to their leveraged nature.
  • Counterparty Risks – When traded on centralized cryptocurrency exchanges, traders could lose their funds if the platform is hacked or goes bankrupt. While there are steps you can take to mitigate this risk, such as using reputable exchanges with strong security measures, it’s a factor to consider.
  • Not Ideal for New Traders – Due to the complex mechanics, leverage risks, and high volatility, perpetual futures are not recommended for new traders. Before diving into perpetual futures trading, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of traditional futures contracts, risk management strategies, and the cryptocurrency market.
  • DeFi Perpetual Futures Risks – Perpetual futures contracts can also be found on Decentralized Finance (DeFi) platforms. While DeFi offers greater control, it also introduces additional risks like smart contract bugs and exploits.


So, the ever-expanding world of cryptocurrencies offers a vast array of options for traders. Perpetual futures contracts have emerged as a unique instrument within this ecosystem, attracting interest for their flexibility and potential for profit. This article has delved into the intricacies of perpetual futures, explaining their mechanisms and the factors that influence their use.

By equipping yourself with knowledge, you can navigate the exciting yet complex world of perpetual futures crypto. 

Remember, careful consideration and a solid understanding of the risks involved are crucial before entering this dynamic market. Whether you’re a seasoned trader or just starting your cryptocurrency journey, this exploration of perpetual futures has hopefully provided valuable insights to guide your decisions.

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