The Role of Arbitrage in Crypto Market Making

Market making has emerged as a pivotal mechanism for ensuring liquidity and market efficiency. Central to this mechanism is the practice of arbitrage, a strategy that exploits price discrepancies across different exchanges to generate profit. 

This article delves into the nuances of arbitrage in the context of crypto market making. 

Introduction to Arbitrage in Crypto

Crypto arbitrage in market making refers to the simultaneous buying and selling of an asset to profit from a difference in price across various exchanges. It is a strategy that has been long employed in traditional financial markets, and with the advent of crypto, it has found a new playground. 

This concept is particularly relevant in the crypto world due to the volatility and the often-significant price disparities seen from one market making platform to another.

Types of Arbitrage Strategies Used by Market Makers

Market makers utilize various arbitrage strategies to capitalize on price differences in crypto exchanges. Here are some of the most common market maker arbitrage strategies:

  • Simple Arbitrage. This is the most straightforward strategy. It involves buying a cryptocurrency on one exchange where the price is lower and immediately selling it on another exchange where the price is higher. The profit comes from the price difference between the two platforms.
  • Triangular Arbitrage. This strategy involves three trades. The market maker exchanges a cryptocurrency for another, then trades the second one for a third, and finally, trades the third one back to the original cryptocurrency. The series of trades are executed in a way that results in a net profit, exploiting the price discrepancies across different trading pairs and exchanges.
  • Statistical Arbitrage. This sophisticated approach uses mathematical models to predict and capitalize on price patterns. Market makers employ algorithms to analyze historical price data and correlations between various cryptocurrencies, executing numerous trades automatically in response to identified opportunities.
  • Convergence Arbitrage. Also known as pairs trading, this strategy involves identifying two cryptocurrencies that usually move in sync but are currently showing a price divergence. Market makers go long (buy) the undervalued cryptocurrency and short (sell) the overvalued one, betting on the prices of the pair converging again in the future.

These strategies highlight the diverse and dynamic nature of arbitrage in the cryptocurrency market. Market makers must continuously adapt and evolve these strategies to stay ahead in a highly volatile and competitive landscape.

Risks and Limitations of Crypto Arbitrage

While arbitrage in the cryptocurrency market offers potentially lucrative opportunities, it comes with a unique set of risks and challenges that traders need to navigate carefully:

  • Time-Sensitivity of Transactions. One of the primary risks in crypto arbitrage is the rapid change in market conditions. Arbitrage opportunities often exist for a very brief period before market forces eliminate the price discrepancy. This time sensitivity requires traders to act incredibly fast, making it a high-pressure strategy.
  • Transaction Fees and Withdrawal Limits. The profits from arbitrage can be significantly reduced by transaction fees, which vary from one exchange to another. Additionally, withdrawal limits imposed by exchanges can restrict the ability to quickly move large amounts of cryptocurrency, which is often necessary to take full advantage of arbitrage opportunities.
  • Price Slippage. This occurs when there is a change in the price of a cryptocurrency between the time an order is placed and when it is executed. In volatile markets, slippage can be substantial, which can turn a profitable arbitrage opportunity into a loss.
  • Liquidity and Arbitrage. In some cases, a lack of sufficient liquidity on an exchange can make it difficult to execute large trades without affecting the market price, thereby reducing the profitability of the arbitrage opportunity.

Real-World Examples of Successful Arbitrage

Several real-world examples highlight the effectiveness of arbitrage in crypto. For instance, during periods of high volatility, price differences between Asian and Western exchanges have been observed to be as high as 30%. 

Traders who acted quickly were able to capitalize on this. Another example of the successful arbitrage in cryptocurrency is the “Kimchi Premium”, observed in South Korean crypto exchanges, where local prices for Bitcoin were significantly higher than global averages, presenting a unique arbitrage opportunity.


In conclusion, arbitrage in the realm of crypto market making is a critical strategy that can yield significant profits. However, it requires a keen understanding of market dynamics and a rapid response to changes. 

As the crypto market continues to evolve, so too will the strategies of market makers, ensuring a dynamic and efficient market for all participants.

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About the Author: Daniel