Auction Mode: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research August 30, 2023

Image for Auction Mode: Everything to Know


  • Cryptocurrency auction mode is a trading mode for an exchange to allow users to set the price at which they are willing to buy crypto assets
  • Exchanges use auction mode to allow users to set the price at which they are willing to buy or sell crypto assets
  • Auction mode enhances price discovery, or finding out the price of a given asset
  • Applications for auction mode include exchanges, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms


Cryptocurrency auction mode is a trading mode for an exchange to allow users to set the price at which they are willing to buy crypto assets. When a coin is in auction mode, the exchange flags transactions so bids determine the price of the coin. The bidding process ensures the coin will sell for its fair market value. The exchange determines how long an auction will last and how users should mark orders like limit orders for auction mode.

A Brief History

For centuries, people have used auctions to establish prices for goods and assets. Auction mode for the crypto ecosystem emerged as a response to the need for transparent and efficient price discovery mechanisms. The first notable implementation of auction mode can be traced back to the early days of DeFi platforms.

In 2015, the Ethereum blockchain introduced decentralized exchange (DEX). These allow users to trade cryptocurrencies without intermediaries. The initial DEX models faced challenges with establishing accurate and reliable pricing. This is because they lacked centralized order books. Some DEX platforms addressed this issue by adopting auction mode, which helped them determine fair market prices and increase liquidity.

Auction mode: Everything to Know

  • Mechanics of Auction Mode . When an exchange operates in auction mode, it allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies through a series of auctions. The auctions have predefined durations during which participants can submit their bids or offers. Usually, the auctions follow specific formats, like ascending price, descending price or Dutch auction. The latter involves reducing the price until the exchange finds a buyer. Each participant can submit their desired price and quantity. The system matches bids and offers based on predefined rules.

Transparency is a key feature of auction mode. Participants can observe the bids and offers submitted by others. This allows them to make informed decisions based on market dynamics. Transparency contributes to the fairness of the auction process. All participants have equal visibility into market activity.

  • Benefits of Auction Mode. Auction mode enhances price discovery. It allows participants to determine the fair market value of assets based on supply and demand dynamics. This helps prevent price manipulation and creates a more efficient market.

Auction mode creates a level playing field for all participants. Regardless of trading experience or account size, everyone has the opportunity to submit bids or offers. This promotes inclusivity and equal participation in the market.

Auction mode increases liquidity by attracting a diverse range of buyers and sellers. The format encourages active participation and can result in competitive pricing. This benefits the overall crypto ecosystem.

  • Use Cases of auction mode. Auction mode finds applications in various areas within the cryptocurrency space. One notable use case is the ICO market. ICOs, which were prevalent during the crypto boom of 2017, allowed projects to raise funds by selling tokens to investors. Some ICOs adopted auction mode to determine the token price. This ensured a fair distribution of tokens and established market demand.

Auction mode has been embraced by decentralized finance platforms. DeFi protocols often use auctions to determine interest rates for lending and borrowing, distribute governance tokens or liquidate collateral in the event of under-collateralization. Auctions provide a transparent and efficient mechanism for these processes. Auctions allow users to participate in the protocol's governance and benefit from its services.

Getting Started

  • Establish an account on a platform that supports this feature. The platform provides details about upcoming auctions, including the assets being auctioned, duration of the auction and specific requirements. Users should review this information carefully before deciding to participate.
  • Access the auction section of the platform's interface. Here, users can find ongoing and upcoming auctions, along with relevant details like starting price, bid increments and remaining time. Platforms have different rules and procedures. Users should familiarize themselves with a specific platform's guidelines.
  • Place a bid. A user should enter the desired amount they are willing to pay for the asset. They should consider current market conditions, asset value and other relevant factors when determining the bid amount. Some platforms may require users to deposit cryptocurrency or fiat currency as collateral to ensure the seriousness of the bid. The platform usually returns the collateral if the user's bid is not accepted.

Unique Aspects

  • Time-sensitive nature of the process. Unlike regular trading, auctions have a fixed duration. This limited time frame creates urgency and encourages quick action to secure desired assets.
  • Competitive nature of auctions. Participants compete against the market and other bidders. This adds complexity as participants strategically determine bid amounts to outbid others while attempting to stay within their budget. Successful bidding requires careful analysis of market conditions, asset value and the actions of other participants.
  • Provides an opportunity to acquire assets at favorable prices. Depending on competition and auction dynamics, participants may secure assets at lower prices compared to traditional trading. Participants should exercise caution and conduct thorough research before participating in an auction.


  • Price Discovery - Auctions facilitate price discovery by allowing participants to bid on assets based on their perceived value. This leads to fairer and more accurate pricing, considering the collective wisdom of the participants.
  • Transparency - Auctions promote transparency as all bids and offers are publicly visible. This helps prevent market manipulation. It ensures a level playing field for all participants.
  • Efficiency - The auction format is more efficient than traditional trading methods. By bringing together buyers and sellers in a centralized marketplace, auctions eliminate the need for multiple transactions and negotiations. Auctions streamline the process and reduce trade completion time.
  • Liquidity - Auctions enhance liquidity by attracting a wide range of participants. The competitive nature of auctions often leads to increased trading volumes. Auctions provide a more liquid market for buyers and sellers.
  • Fairness - In an auction, all participants have an equal opportunity to bid on assets. Auctions promote fairness and prevent any single party from having an unfair advantage. Auctions can incorporate mechanisms to ensure a fair chance for all participants to bid.


  • Limited Timeframe - Auctions have a fixed duration. This restricts participation for individuals who are unavailable or not actively monitoring the market during that period.
  • Volatility - Auctions can be more susceptible to price volatility compared to traditional trading methods. The competitive bidding environment can lead to rapid price fluctuations, introducing additional risk for participants.
  • Lack of Control - Participants in auctions have limited control over the final price at which they buy or sell assets. The outcome is determined by the highest bid or the lowest offer. The lowest offer may not align with the participant's desired price.
  • Market Manipulation - While auctions promote transparency, they are not immune to market manipulation. Participants with significant resources or influence can potentially manipulate the auction process to their advantage. Regulatory oversight and market surveillance mechanisms can help reduce manipulation.
  • Complexity - Auctions can be more complex, especially for individuals new to the concept. Understanding the rules, bidding strategies and dynamics of an auction requires knowledge and experience. Participants should educate themselves about the auction process before selling or buying a coin.