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I've bought some crypto, and it's sitting in my coinbase account.

Let's say it's now worth x dollars.

My question: when I click "sell" at that point, will I be sold exactly x dollars, or will it be something else? (Not including transaction fees or other miscellaneous charges)

I understand it takes time to process a request -- and given how volatile crypto is, the delay in processing could affect the margin quite significantly.

Sub question: If there is going to be a delay, such that the selling price would be liable to change between the act of clicking "sell", and the transaction actually going through, how long is this delay usually? Few seconds? Few days?

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I believe you will get the exact amount sans commission

The price should be exact, minus commission. Coinbase seems to promise this.

You can do spread betting on cryto-currencies, but I'm assuming you're holding "raw" crypto-currency and want to trade it for cold hard cash. All you've got to do is find someone willing to give you the cash for the crypto. Remember crypto-currency doesn't have a mechanism built-in to convert to cash. You're trusting an exchange/brokerage account to match buyers to sellers - you'll have to read the fine print but it looks like Coinbase locks in the exact price.

Transactions are immediate (sort of).

Your transaction will be written to a blockchain (not "the blockchain"). This new blockchain will replicate through the decentralized servers. As long as another blockchain doesn't have a competing transaction, the first (and only) one will stand. It may take hours to replicate to every server, but it doesn't have to be on every server for you to be protected. So the answer to your time question is "immediate for the exchange, hours or days for the world."

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  • It's unusual this answer was downvoted, seems perfect ??
    – Fattie
    Nov 3 '20 at 13:46
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Normally ...

Exactly as the OP suspects ..

Typically on a foreign exchange -related trading site, or something like ofx.com, it's totally normal that - as you guess - the price might be a little different from when you literally click the button.

Note that interestingly this can even happen on Expedia (!) when you buy an air ticket.

Typically the flow goes like this:

  1. It will state "blah $123" and there will be a warning on the screen, "this may change slightly"

  2. You click "Execute" and

  3. There now appears on the screen: "Exact amount will be $122.98, you have (countdown) 7 seconds to agree"

Of course, the exact web interface can vary. I've seen some that use the approach "Your exact price was -blah-, you have N seconds to cancel that if you're unhappy."

Other dealers will just outright state "the price may change slightly if you're slow and it's tough luck, take it or leave it."

There is simply no "standard answer" but yes, as the OP suspects the situation is dynamic.

On Coinbase as in your example ...

In fact as it happens on that site they do in fact promise you the exact price shown, for some limit of seconds. (They take the small risk on small price changes.)

FYI regarding "trading options"

A related issue. There are 1000 questions on this site relating to the confusion of the "price" of stocks and derivatives. If you're looking at the " ' price ' " of some thinly traded stock instrument, the " ' price ' " shown is nothing more than whatever happened to be the most recent price of an actual trade. This has absolutely no relationship to what you may or may not be able to sell or buy for, "now".

Note that in your example, you are literally selling/buying from Coinbase. It is quite simply "a dealer". It's not a brokerage/market type situation where you are selling/buying from a pool of other users.

And, as it happens, they do guarantee the "on-screen" price. Unlike, say, Expedia where you can get a "the price is now ..." message.

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