Market maker: who is it and what function do they perform?

Market makers have become as a key link in the financial markets. There is a misconception that market makers can influence the price of assets. In fact, this statement is far from reality. The main task of a market maker (MM) is to provide liquidity of any asset. If an asset traded on an exchange is provided with sufficient liquidity, the price and spread will be at an adequate level. If there is no liquidity — it will not be profitable to trade an asset, the price will stop at one mark and the spread will expand. So, what exactly do market makers do? Let’s analyze in more detail in this article.

Definition and responsibilities of the market maker

A market maker (MM) is a firm or individual who actively quotes two-sided markets in a security, providing bids and offers (known as asks) along with the market size of each. The profits of the market maker is made up of several aspects:

1. Payments from the exchange as stipulated in the cooperation agreement.

2. Spread from the execution of orders.

3. Speculations and investments.

The SEC regulator explained the functions of the market maker — willingness to buy and to sell an asset on a permanent basis, at a public quote. In other words, maintaining an adequate level of supply and demand, as well as confrontation with the market, for example, selling bitcoin in case of its rapid growth or buying in case of a fall.

In addition, the market maker may act as an intermediary seller or a buyer in case of absence of one of the parties. If you decide to buy or to sell an asset on the exchange and your transaction has passed within a second, the market maker is acting as an intermediary. In this way, the liquidity providers remove unnecessary delays and difficulties in exchanging assets.

Market maker trading process

For example, there is a buyer on the exchange who is ready to buy 100 ETH and there is a seller who is ready to sell 90 ETH. The task of the market maker is to add 10 ETHs and to provide a price to a buyer, for example $200 and for a seller, for example $199. The buyer will pay $20,000 and receive 100 ETH, and the seller will receive $17,910 and give back 90 ETH. The market maker will receive $2,000 for the 10 ETHs and $10 spread, for providing liquidity. The liquidity provider makes a lot of such a trades a day, and as a result has a good profit. However to do this, you need to have an impressive stock of assets to maintain a level between supply and demand. With such not complex machinations, the market maker ensures the efficiency of financial markets, maintaining an adequate price for the asset and the minimum price divergence between exchanges.

Based on the above example, we can think that the activity of a market maker is not complicated and a stable way of earning, in the presence of impressive capital. However, this is not quite true. During time when the market is very volatile, liquidity providers can suffer losses. For example, there is a buyer on the exchange who is willing to buy 100 ETH and a seller who is willing to sell 10,000 ETH. A buyer buys 100 ETHs at $20,000 (price for 1 ETH $200) and a seller gets $19,990 (price for 1 ETH $199), the market maker gets $10 as a spread. At the same time, there are 9,900 ETHs left, which the seller wants to sell, and the market maker, respectively, must buy them back. Having paid $1,970,100 for the entire offer (price for 1 ETH is $199), the liquidity provider will not be able to sell them for the same price. Even if the price drops to $198.5, the total sale price of 9,900 ETH will be $1,965,150, with a loss of $4,950. Considering that the crypto market is famous for its volatility, the price difference may not be 50 cents.

A market maker cannot simply sell the ETHs they receive at a reasonable price for the following reasons:

1. No one will buy the asset at an unfavorable price, and a sale of 9,900 ETH is likely to have impacted the market.

2. The exchange’s service agreement states that the market maker cannot simply take and sell the assets, otherwise its services may be refused.

3. This method can be considered as market manipulation.

Therefore, in a moment of strong volatility market makers simply leave the market, otherwise — it can lead to a serious loss. During high market volatility, it is often impossible to close a position at the right price, due to the lack of liquidity on the exchange. This indicates that the market makers have withdrawn from trading.

It is also possible to track the presence of a market maker on the exchange in the following way: if the spread is narrow and the price of an asset is in a sideways trend, the liquidity provider participates in trading on the exchange. If the spread is wide and the price of an asset is subject to volatility — the market maker has withdrawn from trading. In the same way, you can find out whether there is a market maker at the exchange at all, i.e. whether they resort to its services.

The Market Maker performs vertical market analysis, not horizontal market analysis as ordinary traders do. For the liquidity provider, in addition for buying or selling an asset, the order glass displays pending orders, Take Profit and Stop Loss. This allows you to correctly interpret the mood of the market participants and perform your direct duties as a market maker — to maintain liquidity levels and narrow spreads, as well as to provide large volumes of orders.

Market makers on the crypto market

Market makers in the crypto market are much more in demand than the traditional market and that’s why. If we talk about crypto currencies from the top 10 list — their liquidity is enough to buy or sell a coin almost instantly. However, there are about 3,000 crypto currencies for 2020 and not all of them are liquid.

The process goes like this:

Startup is going to be carried out by IEO (Primary Exchange Offer), a modern analogue of ICO. The stock exchange considers the token and leaves it. After a week, a month, six months the amount of investment in a token is minimal. There are two reasons for this:

1. A skilled trader, when investing in a new coin, will rely on the order book. As the token is new, even if it is promising, but there are no records of selling and buying, so the trader will refuse to invest.

2. A significant player has learned about the listing of a new token and its future prospects. It was decided to open a large, long term position, but there is no liquidity, that is, if the position is opened, it will be time consuming.

To avoid such a development, the crypto market should resort to the services of market makers. Liquidity providers may buy a token and artificially “fill” the order book. In fact, this will be a twisted indicator of liquidity and is suitable only for speculative purposes. But 90% of cryptotraders came to this market because of its high volatility, i.e. to earn on price hikes.

For this reason, crypto currencies need the services of market makers for the systematic establishment of the market and attraction of new, professional traders.

Strategies used

As a rule, market makers always resort to ATS (Automated Trading Systems) and HTF-trading (High Frequency Trading). Both systems require very advanced programming skills. In addition, it will require economy knowledge, preferably not minimal, in order to make right assessment of work and potential risks.

Sell-Side strategy — automatic trading systems are used to constantly maintain optimal prices and profit from spreads. It is not rare to have a strategy of placing Buy and Sell orders simultaneously. In fact — a common risk hedging.

HFT or high-frequency trading- is a type of algorithmic trading characterized by a high speed and turnover of capital, as well as short asset holding periods. To become an HFT trader you will need specialized robots and powerful computers as the main task of high-frequency trading is to conclude a lot of transactions in the shortest possible time. With the help of HFT trading market makers must set a quote or the last price and constantly update it.

Conclusion

Market makers are a necessary part of the economy. They do not earn on price movements, but create comfortable and loyal conditions for trading. In the end I would like to tell you about some myths that exist in the network in relation to market makers.

Market makers can affect market quotes

That’s true, however in a slightly different understanding. The task of a market maker is to create the market mood and push its participants to open orders in the right direction. Market makers cannot influence the quotes price for two reasons:

1. The exchange where the market maker trades, monitors all its operations. In case of intentional influence on the price of the asset, the reaction will be immediate.

2. This kind of activities are trade manipulations, i.e. they are prosecuted by state regulators, up to including deprivation of license to operate such activities.

Market makers cooperate with each other

At the beginning, I would like to mention that all market makers are competitors, and to disclose their plans to competitors is not a good idea. In addition, it is also punishable by law, up to deprivation of a license to conduct activities.

Most transactions on the platform are initiated by market makers

It’s not a very clear statement. The main profits of a market maker is spreads. How in this case should the liquidity provider earn, if all transactions on the site belong to him?

These are the most popular myths in the network regarding market makers. In the end I would like to add that the work of the market maker — is a complex and time-consuming process, the result of which is a balanced financial market.

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