What is an Iceberg order and how to use it?

Back to Blog

Understanding Iceberg Orders and Their Applications

What Defines an Iceberg Order?

An iceberg order is a strategic trading approach designed to manage substantial trading volumes by breaking them down into smaller, inconspicuous units.

In instances where significant market fluctuations occur, such as executing a transaction for a substantial amount of Bitcoin (BTC), like 50,000 BTC, the transaction's impact becomes prominent in the order books. Such drastic shifts can disrupt not only the trader initiating the order but also have ramifications for other market participants.

To counteract this, investors looking to carry out large trades opt to divide their orders into smaller components. Amid the bustling activity of the market, these smaller transactions remain inconspicuous. By the time the market becomes aware, the investor has already executed their trades.

The Rationale Behind Iceberg Orders

Iceberg orders are employed to safeguard against upheavals in the cryptocurrency market, particularly to mitigate price disruptions.

This trading technique is a strategic means to prevent market panic. Through a methodical logistical plan, trades are methodically executed, averting drastic shifts in cryptocurrency prices and demand. Typically orchestrated by a broker, these trades unfold systematically until the entire order is fulfilled.

For instance, envision a scenario where 1,000 BTC needs to be sold. Instead of a single large order, the trader divides it into smaller portions. They begin with a 300 BTC sell order, followed by 200 BTC, then 250 BTC, and finally concluding with the last 250 BTC.

This brings us to a pertinent question: How do hidden orders compare to iceberg orders? Essentially, iceberg orders are a subset of hidden orders, distinguished by the fact that the concealed component of an order is executed after it surfaces in the order book, whereas an iceberg order is executed immediately.

Who Typically Utilizes Iceberg Orders?

Iceberg orders predominantly find usage among prominent institutional investors.

These orders, also known as reverse orders, are chiefly harnessed by market makers, entities that facilitate the trading process by offering bids and asks. The context of these substantial crypto transactions typically revolves around institutional crypto investors who engage in substantial cryptocurrency dealings, capable of wielding considerable influence over the market.

Although these orders can be glimpsed by observant individuals within the order books, only a fraction of the market maker iceberg orders are visible in level-2 order books. These books provide comprehensive real-time data, encompassing price, volume, and timestamps, but only a limited view of the iceberg orders is apparent, akin to the tip of an iceberg submerged beneath the water's surface. For smaller investors such as private traders, resorting to iceberg orders is atypical.

The Mechanics Behind Iceberg Orders

The methodology of iceberg orders entails fragmenting a sizable order into multiple smaller units, which are then introduced into the market incrementally.

For investors seeking to manage large crypto quantities, iceberg orders offer a solution. The objective is to execute trades without causing disturbances in the market. By disseminating the order into smaller fragments, the investor avoids exerting an immediate impact on supply and demand dynamics, thereby remaining inconspicuous.

The primary goal of such investors is to ensure that all orders are fulfilled at the desired price point. For instance, a trader dealing with substantial BTC quantities aims to avert artificially inflating the currency's price due to heightened buying pressure from other traders.

Identifying an iceberg order entails delving into level-2 order books. Unlike level-1 data, which provides basic price information, level-2 data delves deeper, offering insights into the market's depth, including the ten best bids and offers. When hunting for iceberg strategy orders, focusing on level-2 order books is crucial, as each successive portion of the order is executed upon the completion of the preceding one, following a discernible pattern.

Placing an Iceberg Order: Step by Step

Executing iceberg orders necessitates a specialized platform that provides direct access to order books and the market, and involves a systematic account setup.

Ordinary trading platforms do not accommodate iceberg chart trading; this method is exclusively supported by platforms offering direct market access (DMA). These platforms must possess robust technological infrastructure, examples being BitMEX and BitFinex, granting users the ability to access order books directly.

Upon account creation, trading can commence. The process generally follows a uniform structure across platforms. Traders must choose the order type, with the option of selecting an iceberg order among instant orders, limit orders, and stop orders. A sample scenario might involve a user intending to purchase 1,000 BTC. On platforms like OKX, this selection initiates an automatic purchase of the specified BTC quantity.

Share this article

We use cookies to improve your experience. By closing this message you agree to our Cookies Policy.