Prediction Market

An exchange-traded market where individuals can bet on the outcome of a variety of events with an unknown future

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What is a Prediction Market?

A prediction market or betting market is an exchange-traded market where individuals can bet on the outcome of a variety of events with an unknown future. The events range from future commodity prices, yearly revenue results of a company, exchange rates, etc. A well-known public prediction market, Predictlt, predicts the events in the financial and political markets.

Prediction Market


  • A prediction market or betting market is an exchange-traded market where individuals can bet on the outcome of a variety of events with an unknown future.
  • There are four types of prediction markets: Continuous Double Auction, Automated Market Makers & Market Scoring Rules, Real Money vs. Play Money, Other Crowdsourced Forecasting Methods.
  • A well-known public prediction market is Predictlt.

Understanding Prediction Markets

Early forms of prediction markets existed more than 500 years ago, beginning from political betting in the 1500s. According to authors Koleman Strumpf and Paul Rhode, the earliest form of prediction markets in Wall Street took shape around 1884, when the stock market outcomes were based on the presidential election.

Price is an important factor in prediction markets as the price reflects the belief a particular event will occur in the future. The higher the price, the higher the estimated value an individual or a group of individuals place on the outcome of the bet.

In public markets, bets are placed indirectly on intangible events, such as buying certain stocks with upside potential if a certain political party wins an election. Prediction markets instead allow speculators to directly bet on the tangible outcome of an event, such as predicting the winner of an election.

Types of Prediction Market

1. Continuous Double Auction (CDA)

A Continuous Double Action (CDA) is a system developed to match the buyers and sellers of a share in the stock market. Therefore, in a CDA system, the matchmaker oversees a ledger to keep track of traders that bid and ask for a stock.

For example, if Goldman Sachs wants to buy the shares of the Bank of Montreal for $100, it is recorded as a bid in the ledger. On the other hand, if Goldman Sachs wants to sell the shares of the Bank of Montreal for $100, the transaction will be recorded as an ask in the ledger. A trade is only executed when the bid and ask price of the buyer and seller match.

2. Automated Market Makers & Market Scoring Rules

In the prediction market, the main issue with using CDA is the liquidity problem because there is often an unequal number of buyers and sellers. In most prediction markets, there are fewer traders compared to a typical stock exchange like the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

To address the issue, an Automated Market Marker & Market Scoring system was created. In this system, the platform acts as the house and takes the opposite side of all trades. In doing so, every bid and ask is accepted.

For example, a bid by a trader for the shares of the Bank of Montreal will be processed even if there are no sellers of BMO shares in the market. However, the house sets the price using a market scoring rules system for each stock.

3. Real Money vs. Play Money

There are prediction markets that use real money, while others use virtual money. A real money prediction market operates in a similar manner to a regular one. On the other hand, a virtual money prediction market provides traders with a certain amount of money when they join the market. This initial capital is used by participants to trade in the virtual market.

To prevent illiquidity, an automated market maker is installed, and any gains received by a trader will be accumulated in the form of virtual currency. The most popular virtual currency market is AlphaCast, as it is widely used by traders.

4. Other Crowdsourced Forecasting Methods

Apart from prediction markets, there are crowdsourcing forecasting methods, such as opinion polls. These platforms work by using the opinion of the crowd but without the mechanism of the stock market.

Additional Resources

CFI offers the Capital Markets & Securities Analyst (CMSA)® certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and developing your knowledge base, please explore the additional relevant resources below:

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