When BitMEX launched its Bitcoin (BTC) perpetual futures market in 2016, it created a new paradigm for cryptocurrency traders. Although this was not the first platform to offer BTC-settled inverse swaps, BitMEX brought usability and liquidity to a broader audience of investors.
BitMEX contracts did not involve fiat or stablecoins and even though the reference price was calculated in USD all profits and losses were paid in BTC.
Fast forward to 2021, and the Tether (USDT) settled contracts have gained relevance. Using USDT-based contracts certainly makes it easier for retail investors to calculate their profit, loss and the required margin required but they also have disadvantages.
Why BTC-settled contracts are for more experienced traders
Binance offers coin-margined (BTC-settled) contracts and in this case, instead of relying on USDT margin, the buyer (long) and the seller (short) are required to deposit BTC as margin.
When trading coin-margined contracts there is no need to use stablecoins. Therefore, it has less collateral (margin) risk. Algorithmic-backed stablecoins have stabilization issues, while the fiat-backed ones run risks of seizures and government controls. Therefore, by exclusively depositing and redeeming BTC, a trader can bypass these risks.
On the negative side, whenever the price of BTC goes down, so does one’s collateral in USD terms. This impact happens because the contracts are priced in USD. Whenever a futures position is opened the quantity is always in contract quantity, either 1 contract = 1 USD at Bitmex and Deribit, or 1 contract = 100