Cryptocurrency trading bots explained

Trading bots are computer programs that use various indicators to recognize trends and automatically execute trades. While algorithmic trading software has been used by hedge funds in the equity, commodity and currency markets, trading bots for private investors first appeared in the foreign exchange trading space. They quickly made their way into the crypto asset market.

Cryptocurrency Trading Bots

There are currently dozens of cryptocurrency trading bots on offer. They range from free software that anyone can use to expensive subscription-based bots for professional crypto day traders. However, even the most popular cryptocurrency trading bots vary in quality, usability, and profitability.

Four of the most prolific trading bots include Gekko, ZenBot, CryptoTrader, and Haasbot.

Gekko is a free open-source bitcoin trading bot that can be found on Github. It allows users to execute basic cryptocurrency trading strategies. The bot aggregates live price data, calculates indicators, executes live orders, and can simulate live markets using historical price data for the backtesting of trading strategies.

While its functionalities are somewhat limited compared to some of its peers, Gekko is a good trading bot for those new to the cryptocurrency markets who want to test out different automated trading strategies.  

ZenBot is another open-source cryptocurrency trading software that can be found on GitHub. It can be downloaded for free and its code can be modified by anyone who feels it could use an upgrade. Zenbot supports multiple digital assets and uses a technical analysis-focused approach to execute trading strategies. It also offers high-frequency trade execution, extensive backtesting, and a paper trading function to test strategies in real-time.

Having said that, on the bot’s GitHub page its developer warns from using it with large amounts of trading capital as some users have reported losses in live trading even when paper trades showed gains.

CryptoTrader is a cloud-based platform that allows users to develop their own cryptocurrency trading bots which are hosted on the platform. The software supports multiple currencies and exchanges, and allows for thorough backtesting of trading strategies. Additionally, CryptoTrader provides a marketplace where users can sell trading strategies that they have developed as well as buy other user’s strategies.

The prices for subscriptions to CryptoTrader ranges from 0.0013 BTC to 0.016 BTC per month and can be paid for in both bitcoin and litecoin.

Haasbot is probably the most popular crypto trading bot on the market today. The bot provides candlestick chart pattern recognition and allows users to combine that with several other trading signals to develop more advanced crypto trading strategies. Furthermore, the trading bot is supported by a long list of major bitcoin exchanges and is fully customizable in terms of when it should execute trades.

Haasbot also allows users to engage in arbitrage across exchanges as well as protect their investments using stop-loss limits, among other value-adding functionalities. At a price ranging from 0.035 BTC to 0.084 BTC for a three-month license, this bot is at the higher price end and recommended for more advanced traders.

Risks of Trading using Crypto Trading Bots: Whenever you are given your money to a third party - be it a fund manager or a trading software - to manage your funds for you, you are taking a risk. In the case of trading bots that are only a few years old and are being used in an immature illiquid market, the risks are even higher. Additionally, there are the added risks of potentially faulty software, heavy losses due to flash crashes and falling victim to a scam.

Faulty Software: Not all trading bots are created equal. If you are choosing a poorly coded trading bot that has a subpar or even faulty software, you will likely end up losing money using the bot. Hence, you should only choose bitcoin trading bots with the best reputations that offer the type of trading tools that you require.  

Flash Crashes: In the case of a flash crash, as we have witnessed in ether (ETH) on GDAX back in June 2017, trading bots can lead to heavy losses in seconds if users have not set stop-loss limits on their trades. Flash crashes can occur more often than one may think in the relatively illiquid and still largely unregulated world of cryptocurrencies and this poses a risk to those who let trading bots automatically execute trades for them.

Scams: It also needs to be noted that trading bots can easily turn out to be scams. This has been a particularly common problem with trading bots in the forex space but has also affected the cryptocurrency space.

For example, several community members have warned about a bitcoin trading bot called Hexabot. According to user reports on Reddit, Hexabot first halted withdrawals from its platform and then shut down its website in what appears to be an exit scam by the platform’s owners.

Trading Bots are Tools, not Passive Income Generators

The most important thing to highlight when it comes to cryptocurrency trading bots is that they are not a one-stop passive income solution that will make you money in your sleep. The bots that promise you that will most likely turn out to be scams and will end up losing you money.  

The more sophisticated crypto trading bots allow you to set specific parameters at which the bots execute trades on your behalf. These parameters need to be backtested as well as adjusted as you go along. The cryptocurrency market is growing and evolving on a daily basis. Hence, trading strategies need to be updated and adjusted to function in new market conditions as well.

It is possible to generate a trading income using bitcoin trading bots as these programs use historical price data combined with parameters used to find trading signals on which to execute trades on. If you deploy the right strategy and regularly adjust your bot’s settings, it can be a great tool to help you with your cryptocurrency trading decisions.

However, crypto trading bots are by no means a set it and forget it solution to make money in the cryptocurrency market and should only be used with small amounts of capital as the risks can be higher than if you simply trade yourself.