Crypto Futures and Options: A simple introduction by Phemex

Cryptocurrency derivatives are financial agreements between parties whose value is derived from an underlying asset. Essentially, these contracts are commitments to buy or sell a specific asset, such as stocks or cryptocurrencies, at a predetermined price on a future date. Derivatives have no intrinsic or direct value; the value of a derivative contract relies entirely on the anticipated future price movements of the underlying cryptocurrency.

Trading derivative contracts are offered by most crypto exchanges, including Phemex. While the knowledge required to effectively participate in these markets is more advanced, these financial instruments provide greater trading flexibility and control. This article will focus on two commonly traded cryptocurrency derivatives – futures and options – explaining their differences and similarities.

Crypto Futures Trading Explained:

The value of a cryptocurrency at a particular point in time is represented by a crypto futures contract. The holder of a futures contract is required to buy or sell the underlying asset at the contract’s value upon expiration. The exact settlement date distinguishes futures contracts from other types of crypto derivatives.

Understanding Options Contracts:

Similar to crypto futures contracts, options contracts derive their value from the underlying asset. Investors can use these contracts to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined price in the future. However, unlike futures, options contract holders have the choice to buy or sell the underlying asset at expiration, giving them the right, but not the obligation, to complete the transaction. Crypto options trading often allows traders to manage financial losses and avoid liquidation risks. An additional premium is typically paid by the buyer of the options for this right.

Futures vs Options: Comparing Similarities & Differences:


  1. Derivative Instrument: Both futures and options are derivatives that don’t require ownership of the underlying asset and can be employed as hedging tools. Hedging is a risk management strategy aimed at minimizing or eliminating potential revenue losses.
  2. Leverage: Traders can gain access to the underlying asset at a fraction of the cost through leverage for both types of derivative contracts. This enables traders to buy or sell a large contract with a small amount of capital.


  1. Fee Structure: A key difference between these derivatives is their fee structures. Options buyers must pay an upfront cost, known as a premium, to the seller when purchasing the contract. In contrast, futures contracts can be opened without any upfront fees, though exchanges usually charge commissions and trading fees.
  2. Risk Management: Options traders’ losses are limited to the premium paid for the contract, as they can choose not to exercise their contracts. The maximum loss is capped at the fixed premium, regardless of the underlying asset’s fluctuations. Conversely, futures contracts carry liquidation risks due to the potential for sudden price movements in leveraged positions, which could quickly eliminate a trader’s initial investment. Forced liquidation may occur if your cash balance is insufficient to meet the margin requirements for an open position.


There are many advantages and disadvantages to trading cryptocurrency futures and options in the digital asset market. Trading derivatives carries inherent risks, so it’s crucial to conduct thorough research before investing. Understanding the key differences and similarities between futures and options can help traders make more informed decisions in the cryptocurrency market.