When is Bitcoin Most Volatile?

A user made a search on this site a few days ago wondering “what time of day is bitcoin most volatile?”

I’ll attempt to answer this question below, and if you have your own questions about cryptocurrencies, bitcoin trading, or related topics, please use the contact form on this site, or reply to this or other posts, and I’ll do my best to provide an answer.

It’s nearly impossible to tell what time of day the bitcoin price is most volatile. Since bitcoin is traded on a number of different exchanges around the world, against multiple fiat and cryptocurrencies, we would need to build a program able to get the data and run some statistical analysis to determine an empirical answer.  I suggest pulling data from a number of exchanges using their APIs, and putting this data into a statistical program: even excel will do. You can use the data to try to determine when standard deviation is the highest, etc. There is probably not a single answer, but the data will help you determine an answer that’s helpful to you, so that you can apply this data to improve your own trading process.

There are some other measures of bitcoin volatility to keep in mind. Check out The Bitcoin Volatility Index bitvol.info for a measure of historical volatility. I also think the numbers calculated by Deribit based on their options market are your best source to determine implied volatility.

When thinking about volatility, it’s important to recognize the different types of volatility. Historical volatility, also referred to as “statistical volatility” or “realized volatility”, measures volatility of an underlying by calculating standard deviation over specific periods of time. In comparison, “implied volatility” measures the future expectation of volatility. To calculate implied volatility, use an options pricing model such as Black-Scholes to solve for the volatility variable (this can be done in excel), or use a web based option price calculator.

What’s causing the Bitcoin Price to rise?

What’s causing the price of bitcoins to rise so dramatically?  I get asked this question many times a day from friends and colleagues wondering what’s driving the price of bitcoins. My favourite response is the old trader’s adage, “more buyers than sellers”. Even though this response is a joke, the basic fundamentals are true (I guess that’s what makes it an “adage”). The reason why the bitcoin price is rising is because there are a lot more buyers than sellers. An increasing number of people around the world are buying bitcoins, and by most back of the napkin estimates, only a small fraction of the world’s population has any bitcoin yet, so we might be only scratching the surface of the bitcoin price rise.

I think its only a matter of time until a wave of new crypto currency users come from countries with failed governments. There are lots of examples of this happening already such as the number of luxury goods shops accepting bitcoin in popular tourist destinations in France and Switzerland, they are being used by the elite from African and middle eastern countries. There are more than 1 billion people living in India and their governments are ineffective and wasteful, they are subject to wild banking laws and black markets make up such a large part of the Indian economy, it only makes sense that many people in India will move away from using their government currency and use crypto currencies instead. The government will have to spend a lot of resources and restrict the freedoms of citizens to access the internet in order to try and stop this trend.

Where could the price of bitcoin go?  Anywhere the market decides. Nobody is in control of the bitcoin price, and this is part of its appeal. If the bitcoin blockchain cannot provide value to users, its market price will eventually fall, maybe it will crash, but whether its bitcoin or some of the many other crypto currencies, the idea of blockchains has been discovered, and this cannot be unlearned.

Those of us with bitcoins should be less concerned about whether the price rises or falls, and more concerned about what governments will do about it. As the crypto economies grow, they will erode the power of governments to tax residents who do not disclose their crypto income/assets. And there will be increasing arms race between the most sophisticated members of rich countries and their own governments who try to tax their crypto currency profits.


CBOE Bitcoin Futures Contract Specs

On December 10th 2017, the CBOE will launch bitcoin contracts for trading on their futures exchange. Below is a description of the key facts associated with the CBOE contracts. My initial thoughts are that with a contract size of 1 BTC on the CBOE compared to 5 BTC for the CME contract, the smaller CBOE contract might be more accessible to retail traders because of its smaller size. I also think that having two contracts with different sizes with some slight basis risk (due to the reference price each contract uses), the CME and CBOE contracts will compliment each other by adding greater liquidity in a similar way that e-mini and miny contracts did with other futures contracts. Both contracts will be cash settled based on their respective underlying indexes.

Another feature that will come out of the CBOE futures contracts if they take-off is the Gemini Exchange will likely get a lot more volume and attention, this is probably good for the Winklevoss twin’s business.

Here are the CBOE contract specs:

CBOE Bitcoin (USD) futures (XBT) are cash-settled futures contracts that are based on the Gemini auction price for bitcoin in U.S. dollars.

Contract multiplier is 1 bitcoin.

Ticker Symbol: XBT

Contract Expirations: “The Exchange may list for trading up to four near-term expiration weeks (“weekly” contracts), three near-term serial months (“serial” contracts), and three months on the March quarterly cycle (“quarterly” contracts).”

“Market Orders for XBT futures contracts will not be accepted. Any Market Orders for XBT futures contracts received by the Exchange will be automatically rejected. Stop Limit Orders are permitted during regular and extended trading hours for the XBT futures contract.”

Minimum Price Intervals: 10.00 points USD/XBT (equal to $10.00 per contract). The individual legs and net prices of spreads in XBT futures may be in increments of 0.01 points USD/XBT (equal to $0.01 per contract).

The reporting limit will be 5 contracts (this seems quite low, but maybe this is something that the CFTC wanted)

There will be price limits, please consult the exchange website for more information.



Bitcoin Futures on CME December 18th

Today the CME announced bitcoin futures trading will begin on December 18th, 2017. This is very exciting news for crypto market participants. Trading in bitcoin futures on a CFTC regulated exchange will move bitcoin closer to the mainstream, add practically unlimited liquidity, and provide bitcoin holders with a way to hedge their bitcoin price exposure to the USD fiat economy.

The CME bitcoin futures contracts will be cash settled based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR), which aggregates bitcoin trading activity across several spot exchanges between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. London time each day. The contract size will be 5 bitcoins, which considering the current price of $10,000 BTC/USD, the notional value of each contract might be around $50,000. This contract size is probably too big for the average retail trader, but good enough for the rest of us.

FAQ: CME Bitcoin Futures – CME Group – CME Group

CME Group plans to launch Bitcoin futures contracts on December 18, 2017, pending regulatory review and certification. CME Bitcoin futures are based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR), which aggregates bitcoin trading activity across major bitcoin spot exchanges between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. London time.

Bitcoin Futures Get Official Green Light From Regulators

CME, Cboe allowed to proceed after pledges to regulators CFTC says venues will help U.S. surveil bitcoin’s spot market CME Group Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. are poised to offer bitcoin futures contracts, easing the way for mainstream investors to bet big while dragging regulators into a realm skeptics call a fad and fraud.

How to price CoinRoster bitcoin pools

This post will describe how to use binary options to estimate the odds of a pari-mutuel pool. Friends of mine run a fantasy sports site called CoinRoster where they host pari-mutuel pools on a variety of topics including the bitcoin price. The CoinRoster bitcoin pools are fairly straight forward, users are presented with a binary question such as “will the bitcoin price be over/under a fixed price at a future date”. As the image below shows, at the time of writing, CoinRoster had a pool asking whether the price of bitcoin will be above or below $5,000 USD on February 1st 2017 based on the CME reference price. This pool closes in a few hours with the current bitcoin price is $6,352.

This is a simple market with two possible outcomes, the price will either be $5,000 and above, or below $5,000 as described by the pool’s terms. With the current price of $6,352, we can use a binary options calculator to determine the theoretical price for each outcome. We can even go a step further by converting the binary option price into an odds number format that you prefer, in the example below, I use decimal odds.

To start, let’s tally all the information we need to price the binary option:

Days Till Expiration 92
Strike Price $5,000
Underlying Price $6,352
Volatility 90%
Risk Free Rate 1.25%
Distributions 0

The days till expiration is the settlement date of the pool, in this case, the pool closes on October 31st, and settles based on the February 1st price, this is 92 days.  The strike price is $5,000 since this is the price that the pool uses to determine the outcome (either above or below). The underlying price is the current price of bitcoin, which is $6,352. To estimate the volatility, I used the average implied volatility rate for options on deribit.com, I chose a level of 90%.  I used a risk free rate of 1.25% and there are no dividends or distributions which might impact the price, so this number is zero.

Now we have all the variables, to determine the binary option prices, simply visit a free binary options calculator online and plug in the numbers, below is a screenshot.

With these variables entered, we get a result of a binary call price of 0.62 and a put price of 0.38. The first thing we should notice is since there are only two possible outcomes, the sum of call and put prices should be exactly 1.00. We should also notice that the call option is worth much more than the put option, this makes intuitive sense since the strike price is $5,000, while the underlying price is currently $6,352, making the call option “in the money”.

The binary option values can also be viewed as percentage chances, in other words, a binary option value of 0.62 is like saying there is a 62% chance of the outcome happening. To convert the binary option into an odds format such as decimal odds, simply divide 1 into the binary price = 1 / 0.62 =  1.612 or oppositely 1 / 0.38 = 2.63. Now we have an estimated price for each outcome in this pool, 1.612 for above and 2.63 for below.

In this example, the main variable that will impact the calculation is the volatility rate. We could assume different levels of volatility and get much different results. For example, instead of using a volatility level of 90%, if we used a level of 30%, the result would be binary prices of 0.935 call and 0.065 put. This makes intuitive sense since the less volatile the underlying is, the less likely it is to make big swings “out of the money” in this case, below $5,000 by February 1st.

The CoinRoster bitcoin pools are fun ways to bet on the price of bitcoin, whether you are hedging or speculating.

CME to launch bitcoin contracts

Very exciting news from CME today, they plan to launch bitcoin futures contracts in Q4 2017! If it comes true, I think this would be one of the most dramatic events in the history of crypto currencies. Having a transparent US regulated futures market (can we also hope for options on futures eventually?) will have a cascading effect on the rest of the market. Think about the reasons why regulators have been denying ETF and other crypto product applications, because they say the secondary market is not developed enough, well, if the CME is hosting a liquid market, it becomes impossible to deny ETF applications. There is every reason to believe once the CME bitcoin markets are established, tracker ETFs will be approved and listed on recognized US exchanges as well.

When FX markets were launched on the CME in the 1970s, they supported the growth of a new global market for free floating fiat currencies. I hope something similar happens as the CME begins to host crypto markets, since it will become impossible for governments to deny their efficacy.

CME Group Announces Launch of Bitcoin Futures – CME Group

CHICAGO, Oct. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it intends to launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of 2017, pending all relevant regulatory review periods. The new contract will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR) which serves as a once-a-day reference rate of the U.S.

Deribit Suffers Loss – Remains Solvent

Deribit recently announced they have suffered losses due to liquidations triggered by margin calls. Essentially what happened was as the market prices changed, margin calls and forced liquidations were triggered, and the market did not have enough liquidity to fill all the orders in an orderly manner, so as positions were blown out, there was a big gap in fill prices to where theoretical prices might be. The beneficiaries were the market makers who let the market gap down, then filled margin liquidation orders at prices well below expected prices. The exchange made up the difference (since the liquidated positions were the result of margin calls), and then asked major market makers to eat some of the loss, which it sounds like they did.  Below is a copy of the text provided by Deribit.

The case highlights another situation where market participants are at risk since crypto financial intermediaries such as exchanges provide users with too little information about their financial position. With the absence of clearinghouses or independent rating agencies, users are left bearing a lot of risk, and its difficult for users to guage the magnitude of this risk.

Yesterday around 14.00 UTC we had liquidation algorithms of portfolio margin users creation a chaos in the 29 December future. This resulted finally in bankruptcies of more than 105 BTC. Further various client accounts had unjust losses due to liquidations as well.


We had to halt trading yesterday for a while to fix the issue before we could continue again. We are sorry for the downtime.


We solved the issue of the losses by contacting our biggest market makers and traders that have been making profits trading against the malicious algorithm at prices far above the market. We are grateful for their understanding of the incident and for their direct support of our exchange.


Further we decided to refill the insurance fund further such that all other traders will remain completely unaffected and no profits will be socialized among other traders in this session at all.


The total final loss left for the exchange amounts to around 60 BTC (or USD 235.000 at the time of writing). Please note that all users’ funds are safe and we as an exchange can, of course, handle a loss of 60 BTC. The exchange will continue operating as normal.


This was our first major incident since we opened doors for trading in the summer of 2016. We will work hard now to improve various liquidation algorithms such that this could never occur again. This might further delay the launch of new products like Ethereum futures and our upcoming Spot Exchange.

The insurance fund will also be replenished again with 25 BTC.

How to trade bitcoins on QuadrigaCX

Now that you’ve opened and verified and also funded your QuadrigaCX account, you are ready to trade some Canadian dollars and US dollars for bitcoins and ethereum. This post will explain how to make a trade on cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX.

After logging into your QuadrigaCX account, choose the “Trade” tab from the main menu. When on the “Trade” menu, you will see the current order book displayed for the default market (btc/cad) with the bids displayed on the left side of the page and the offers displayed on the right side. Stacked on top of the order book are order entry modules that you can use to place your order.

If you are unfamiliar with how a market works and/or how prices are formed, the first thing you do is examine the current bids and offers. The bids and offers listed are orders from other users who have placed orders to either buy or sell at certain prices. For example, if you see a bid price of $4,000 CAD for 2 BTC, this means that someone (or a number of users) has placed an order to buy 2 bitcoins at a price of $4,000 CAD.  Oppositely, if you see an offer for 2 BTC at $4,010 CAD, this means that someone (or a number of users) has placed an order to sell 2 bitcoins at a price of $4,010 CAD.

The “price” of bitcoins is simply the last time that a bid or an offer was matched. If you want to buy bitcoins with Canadian dollars, then examine the offers. Using the example above, the lowest price offered is $4,010 CAD for 2 BTC. This means that you can buy up to 2 BTC at a price of $4,010 CAD. If you want to buy 0.10 BTC, and this price meets your objective, then go ahead and enter your order to make a transaction. Using the BUY side order entry module on the left side of the order book, enter a price of $4,010 and quantity of 0.10 BTC. As you enter your order details, you will see that the order entry module dynamically updates to reflect your inputs. This helps you confirm the price and amount you wish to enter.

Once you have input your desired price and quantity, and reviewed your order, simply press the “buy” button located within the order entry module, and your order will be sent to the market. If the current offer was $4,010 and you enter an order to buy at this price, your order will be matched and filled. This will mean you purchase bitcoins at this price.

Conversely, if you’d like to sell bitcoins, the same mechanics are used to sell, but instead of trying to pay the lowest price, you are trying to sell at the highest.

Maybe you’d like to buy bitcoins, but only if they reach a certain lower level. Maybe you’ve determined that a price of $3,500 is the highest price you are willing to pay. You can enter these details in the order entry module, and your order will be sent to the order book where it waits until the market falls to this price, or you cancel your order. This is called a “limit” order. From what I can tell, there is no time limit to how long orders can sit.

QuadrigaCX is the best place for Canadians to buy and sell bitcoins with the most liquid order book and the most stable deposit/withdrawal methods. Please use this link to open an account as it will mean some referral revenue for me 🙂

QuadrigaCX Withdrawal Methods Review

Now that you’ve owned bitcoins and ethereum for the past few years, and you’d like to take some profits, how do you transfer your gains back to Canadian dollars?  This post will review a few different ways to make withdrawals from QuadrigaCX bitcoin and ethereum exchange.

One of the best methods for Canadians to trade cryto currencies is to use QuadrigaCX, which is a crypto currency exchange that offers btc/eth/cad/usd pairs. If you want a guide on how to open a QuadrigaCX account, please read my previous post for step by step instructions.

To make a withdrawal, transfer your bitcoins or ethereum to your QuadrigaCX account. Then you’ll will need to use the exchange to trade your crypto currency for Canadian dollars, and once your trades are complete, make a request to withdraw the funds.

Once you have Canadian dollars in your QuadrigaCX account, as the image below shows, click on the Canadian dollar balance drop down menu, and select “withdrawal”. You will be taken to a page that lists the difference withdrawal methods that QuadrigaCX offers.

QuadrigaCX offers a number of different withdrawal methods. Express bank transfers and Rapid bank transfers are types of electronic payment methods available with some Canadian banks. These two methods are expensive compared to the other methods, so I suggest not using them.

A friend of mine recently requested a withdrawal using the bank wire method. Its now been a few weeks and he still hasn’t received his funds. This might be related to how the wire is transferred, since they travel thru a few different international channels. I wouldn’t suggest using a bank wire from QuadrigaCX for this reason.

The EFT method works with Canadian banks and happens quickly. QuadrigaCX doesn’t change any additional fees for this method, it was used by another friend of mine recently and his withdrawal happened quickly without any problems.

I recently requested a cheque from QuadrigaCX and the process worked ok. It was a bit strange though, since I received a cheque in the mail a few days after my request, the address on the envelope was written by hand, and the cheque was also filled-out by hand and drawn on a numbered company with an account at CIBC in Grimsby (a town in Ontario). I deposited the cheque in my bank and so far no problems. I suspect what QuadrigaCX is doing is matching withdrawal requests with a network of partners who want to purchase bitcoins, so in fact the cheque I received might actually be in exchange for bitcoin or ethereum from QuadrigaCX.

The final method I suggest using is the PayPal method, this will happen just like an e-transfer (e-mail money transfer). You’ll be able to login to your PayPal account associated with that e-mail account to complete the transaction.