What is a derivative?
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Written by Avalanche
Updated over a week ago

A derivative is an investment instrument whose value is derived from the performance of an underlying asset and in which counterparty agreements are hardwired in code. Essentially, it is a financial contract between two parties that derives its value from an underlying asset, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, or even cryptocurrencies.

Derivatives can be used for a variety of purposes, including speculation, hedging, and arbitrage. Speculators use derivatives to bet on the future price movements of an underlying asset, hoping to profit from these predictions. Hedgers, on the other hand, use derivatives to protect themselves against potential price fluctuations and to manage their risk exposure. Arbitrageurs take advantage of price discrepancies between different markets or instruments to make a profit.

In traditional finance, derivatives are usually traded through centralized exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) markets, where counterparties agree to the terms of the contract. However, with the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi), smart contracts on blockchain platforms have enabled the creation of tokenized derivatives that operate on decentralized exchanges.

DeFi derivatives can represent real-world assets, such as fiat currencies, bonds, commodities, and cryptocurrencies. These tokenized derivatives are created and managed through smart contracts, which are self-executing agreements with the terms of the derivative.


For any additional questions, please view our other knowledge base articles or contact a support team member via the chat button. Examples are for illustrative purposes only.


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