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Market Makers vs Market Takers Explained

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Cryptocurrencies derive their value from supply and demand, with the buyers and sellers playing an enormous role in the market's liquidity, and ultimately, success. This rings true for stocks, commodities and forex markets too, essentially any asset markets with trading volumes.

Anyone participating in these markets will have been a maker or a taker at some stage, most likely, both. In this article, we're breaking down the concept of makers vs takers, exploring their vital role in the market and large quantities of these result in stronger exchanges. 

Liquidity Explained

Before we dive in, let's first cover an important concept: liquidity. Assets can sometimes be described as liquid or illiquid, this simply refers to how easily the asset can sell. Gold is a prime example of a liquid asset as anyone could easily trade it for cash without any hassle, while a glass statue of your neighbour's cat would be an illiquid asset as the chances of anyone wanting to own it are slim (except for the neighbour, maybe). 

Building on this, market liquidity indicates how liquid a market is. A liquid market means that the asset is in high demand, traders are actively looking to acquire the asset, while also having a high supply, meaning that traders are actively looking to offload the asset. An illiquid market then means that there is low supply and demand, making it difficult to buy or sell the asset for a fair price.

In a liquid market where there are many traders looking to buy and sell an asset, the sell order (ask price) tends to be in the same region as the buy order (buy price). Typically, the lowest sell order will be the same as the highest buy order, creating a tight buy-ask spread. 

Now that we've covered liquidity, it's time for makers vs takers. 

What Is The Difference Between Market Makers And Market Takers?

As mentioned above, any successful exchange requires a fair amount of makers and takers. Let's explore the difference between the two below. 

Market Makers

Exchanges typically use an order book to conduct trades. The order book will store offers to buy and sell as they come in, and execute the trades when the criteria are met, i.e. someone could create an offer that says when Bitcoin reaches $40,000, buy 4. When the BTC price reaches $40,000, the order book with automatically execute this trade. 

In this case, the person creating this buy order is known as a maker. They are essentially "making" the market by announcing their intentions ahead of time via the order book. While many retail investors are makers, the field is typically made up of big traders and high-frequency trading institutions. 

A market maker is a liquidity provider. 

Market Takers

Market takers are then liquidity "takers", removing liquidity from the market. Takers create market orders that indicate to the exchange that the trader wants to buy or sell at the current market price. The exchange will then automatically execute the trade using a maker's offer.

A taker is a trader filling someone else's order. Market makers create offers for the order book, making it easier for users to buy and sell, while market takers exercise this liquidity by buying the asset. 

What Are Maker-Taker Fees?

You might have heard of maker-taker fees before, this makes up a considerable amount of how exchanges generate an income (after all, exchanges are businesses that need to make money). When an exchange matches a maker and a taker, they will take a small fee for the efforts on their part. This fee will differ from exchange to exchange, and will also be dependent on how big of a trade it is. 

As makers are providing liquidity to the exchange (an enticing attribute for any trading platform) they will pay lower fees compared to a trader taking away from the platform's liquidity. Always be sure to check the fee structure and pricing on a platform before engaging in any trading activity, these will be outlined in the platform's trading policy.

How Do Trading Companies Make Money?

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology was designed to provide a decentralized financial system that bypasses government control. However, to alleviate regulatory concerns, exchanges were established to provide a reliable and convenient means of operating within the crypto markets. These exchanges provide a secure way in which users can buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies, and in return make money through the activities of its customers as it is a business after all.

While maker and taker fees make up a large portion of how a platform generates an income, the business also generates income through deposit and withdrawal fees, commissions made on trades and listing fees. These typically make up the cost of production and running the business.

In Conclusion

Market makers contribute to the market's liquidity by creating orders looking to be filled, while market takers fill these orders. Makers are typically rewarded for bringing liquidity to a platform with low maker fees, while takers pay higher fees when they make use of this liquidity, easily buying and selling the asset.