What is a Pair?

Pair trading is a market neutral investment strategy that involves simultaneously buying and selling two highly correlated financial instruments in order to profit from small changes in the price difference between them. The goal of pair trading is to capitalize on the statistical relationship between two securities, rather than betting on the overall direction of the market.

Pair trading is often used in the equity market, but it can also be applied to other asset classes such as futures, options, currencies, and commodities. In order to be suitable for pair trading, the two securities must be highly correlated, meaning that their prices move in the same direction and at the same magnitude. The correlation between the two securities is typically measured using statistical techniques such as regression analysis or co-integration analysis.

Pair traders typically use a variety of quantitative tools and algorithms to identify and monitor potential pairs, determine their optimal hedge ratios, and execute their trades. Some common methods used by pair traders include statistical arbitrage, mean reversion, and Kalman filtering.

Pair trading is often used as a hedge against market risk, since it involves being long and short two highly correlated securities at the same time. This means that the pair trader is not exposed to the overall direction of the market, but instead profits from the relative movement of the two securities.

In addition to being a market neutral strategy, pair trading can also provide diversification benefits, as the trades are typically uncorrelated with other market participants. This can help reduce portfolio volatility and improve risk-adjusted returns.

It's important to note that pair trading is a highly technical and complex strategy that requires a deep understanding of financial markets and a high level of quantitative expertise. Pair traders must have the ability to analyze large amounts of data, identify correlations and relationships between securities, and execute trades quickly and efficiently. As with any investment strategy, there are also risks involved with pair trading, including the risk of misidentifying correlations, the risk of market changes or disruptions, and the risk of execution errors.

Simplified Example

Think of pairs in currency like a game of trading stickers with your friends. Each sticker represents a different type of currency, like dollars or euros. When you trade stickers with your friends, you have to make sure that you're trading stickers that have the same value. For example, you wouldn't want to trade a rare sticker for a common one.

In the same way, when you trade currency pairs, you have to make sure that you're trading currencies that have the same value. For example, you might trade euros for dollars, or yen for pounds. The value of each currency changes all the time, just like the value of stickers changes, so you have to keep an eye on the value of each currency to make sure you're making a fair trade.

In this analogy, the sticker represents a currency, and the trade between two stickers represents a currency pair.

History of the Term "Pair"

In the realm of cryptocurrency trading, the practice of trading assets in pairs, an established concept in traditional financial markets, found its early adoption. Cryptocurrency exchanges initially employed informal terminology such as "markets" or "combinations" to denote these pairs. However, as the cryptocurrency market expanded with the emergence of numerous exchanges, a standardized and concise term became essential. The term "pair" gained widespread adoption due to its simplicity and clarity, offering a straightforward way to reference the two assets involved in a trading pair. Its consistency across exchanges facilitated communication among traders, and the term proved particularly efficient given the technical constraints of early exchange platforms.


EUR/USD (Euro/US Dollar) - This is a currency pair that represents the exchange rate between the Euro and the US Dollar. It is the most widely traded currency pair in the world and is used to measure the relative strength of the two economies. The Euro (EUR) is the currency of the European Union and the US Dollar (USD) is the currency of the United States. The pair is often used by forex traders to determine the direction of the market and to make decisions about buying or selling.

GBP/JPY (British Pound/Japanese Yen) - This is a currency pair that represents the exchange rate between the British Pound and the Japanese Yen. The British Pound (GBP) is the currency of the United Kingdom and the Japanese Yen (JPY) is the currency of Japan. This pair is popular among traders who are looking to take advantage of the fluctuations in the exchange rate between the two currencies. The GBP/JPY pair is also used to gauge the strength of the British economy relative to the Japanese economy.

AUD/NZD (Australian Dollar/New Zealand Dollar) - This is a currency pair that represents the exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the New Zealand Dollar. The Australian Dollar (AUD) is the currency of Australia and the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is the currency of New Zealand. This pair is used by traders to monitor the performance of the Australian and New Zealand economies and to make decisions about buying or selling. The AUD/NZD pair is particularly useful for traders who are looking to take advantage of the close economic and political ties between the two countries.

  • Cryptocurrency Pairs: The two different currencies that can be traded against each other on a cryptocurrency exchange.

  • Paper Trading: A simulation of actual trading where investors or traders can practice buying and selling securities without using real money.