Trading Pair

Trading Pair definition: Combination of two different cryptocurrencies traded against each other on an exchange, forming trading pairs.

The term 'trading pair" refers to a combination of two different types of cryptocurrencies that can be traded against each other. Essentially, it establishes a comparative value between the two assets. Pairs are the fundamental building blocks of cryptocurrency exchanges, serving as the medium through which trades are executed. For example, a Bitcoin to Ethereum pair, commonly denoted as BTC/ETH, means that one can trade Bitcoin in exchange for Ethereum and vice versa.

Pairs are not limited to only cryptocurrencies; they can also involve fiat currencies like the U.S. Dollar, Euro, or Yen. In such cases, you might encounter pairs like BTC/USD or ETH/USD. The first asset in the pair is called the "base currency," and the second one is known as the "quote currency." The base currency is what you are looking to buy or sell, and the quote currency is what you use to make the trade. The price of the pair indicates how much of the quoted currency is needed to purchase one unit of the base currency.

Understanding trading pairs is crucial for anyone engaged in the trading or swapping of digital assets. They provide the marketplace for exchanging one type of asset for another, enabling liquidity and facilitating price discovery. Liquidity refers to how easily assets can be bought or sold in the market without affecting their price. High liquidity is generally desirable, as it means that large transactions can occur without a significant impact on the market. Price discovery is the process through which the supply and demand for an asset are matched, resulting in a publicly quoted price.

Traders and investors should be aware of the different kinds of pairs available on an exchange platform. Not all cryptocurrencies can be directly exchanged for one another, which may necessitate a two-step trade involving a more commonly traded intermediary asset, often Bitcoin or Ethereum. This is important because each step in a multi-stage trade can incur fees or slippage, which is the difference between the expected price of a trade and the price at which it is actually executed.

Moreover, understanding pairs is vital for executing more complex trading strategies, such as arbitrage, which involves taking advantage of price differences between pairs across different exchanges. Traders who engage in such strategies need a comprehensive grasp of how pairs function and how they relate to market liquidity and price volatility.

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Michelle Legge
By Michelle LeggeHead of Crypto Tax Education
Updated Nov 9, 2023
This article has been fact checked and reviewed as per our editorial policy.