Glossary   »   B   »  Bid
published-date Published: October 7, 2023
update-date Last Update: January 31, 2024


What Is a Bid?

A bid represents the price a trader is willing to pay for an asset in various financial markets, including forex, cryptocurrencies, indices, and sometimes stocks. It is essentially an offer to purchase, specifying both the price and quantity desired.

In these markets, market makers play a crucial role by presenting both the bid and the asking price, ensuring liquidity and facilitating trade execution.

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How a Bid Works

In the market, transactions are driven by buyers and sellers. Sellers present their assets, and buyers are ready to acquire them. These exchanges occur in various settings such as auctions, financial markets, and retail outlets.

The method of bidding varies. In auctions, bids can be placed physically or digitally. In financial markets, a broker often facilitates the process. Certain bids are confidential, like sealed bids, to ensure fairness and prevent disputes.

Organizations also compete for substantial contracts, which could involve large-scale projects in areas like infrastructure development, technology implementations, or healthcare services.

The Bid-Ask Spread

The gap between the bid (the price buyers are ready to pay) and the ask (the price sellers seek) reflects the market’s supply and demand dynamics. A narrower difference indicates higher demand for that financial instrument.

In the context of various markets, the spread can manifest differently. For equities, it’s often a matter of cents or dollars. In foreign exchange and cryptocurrencies, the spread is typically measured in pips, generally a very small fraction.

Market Makers

Market makers, sometimes referred to as specialists, are pivotal in ensuring the smooth functioning and liquidity of the marketplace. They set both bid and ask prices, intervening when automatic price matching systems fall short, thereby facilitating investor transactions. While specialists in equities markets are obliged to offer a price for the stocks they handle, they are not constrained by regulations regarding the size of the bid-ask spread.

In the realm of forex and similar markets, interbank traders serve as market makers. They consistently provide two-way quotes to both direct partners and electronic platforms. In times of market instability, their spreads tend to widen. Contrary to their counterparts in equities, they are not mandated to set prices in situations of diminished market liquidity.

These professionals are vital for the market’s efficiency, offering bids and asks, and stepping in when electronic systems fail to align prices. They maintain the flow of trades, yet they have the discretion to determine the extent of their spreads.


Bidding Methods

  • Auctions: A competitive environment for purchasing items such as artwork or real estate. Participants can engage in this process either in person or through online platforms.
  • Digital Bidding: Platforms like eBay exemplify this, where you engage in electronic bidding wars for desired items.
  • Sealed Bid Auctions: In this approach, bids remain confidential. Participants submit their top offer in a sealed envelope, with the highest concealed bid emerging victorious. This method is frequently used in contract negotiations or property transactions.


  • Auction House Bidding: Like at Sotheby’s, where someone might drop millions on a rare diamond.
  • Space Trip Bidding: Like when someone paid $28 million to join Jeff Bezos in space.

Bottom Line

Bidding enables the acquisition of a wide range of items via auctions and markets, characterized by a competitive atmosphere where participants strive to surpass each other’s offers. The range of bid-worthy items is extensive, encompassing real estate, livestock, luxury goods, and financial instruments like stocks.

Keep in mind, the bid-ask spread is a crucial indicator of the supply and demand dynamics for a particular item. Moreover, it’s essential to adhere to your financial limits, even in the heat of competitive bidding.

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