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Nov 27, 2023
Understanding Crypto Matching Engine: What is it and How does it work?
by Orderly Network

The role of matching engines in crypto trading is immense, but its significance is not always clear to every trader. A matching engine plays a crucial role in facilitating the seamless execution of buy and sell orders on various trading platforms. This intricate piece of technology serves as the backbone of crypto exchanges, ensuring that transactions occur efficiently and accurately.

In this article series, we explain what crypto matching engines are and unravel the mechanics behind their operation.

What is a Matching Engine in Crypto Trading?

A crypto matching engine is a crucial component of a cryptocurrency exchange platform. Its primary function is to facilitate the matching of buy and sell orders submitted by users on the exchange. When a user places a buy order, indicating the desired price and quantity of a particular cryptocurrency, and another user simultaneously places a sell order at the same or a compatible price, the matching engine brings these orders together, allowing the trade to occur.

The matching engine ensures that trades are executed efficiently and fairly, following the principles of price-time priority. Price-time priority means that orders at the same price level are matched based on the time they were placed, with the oldest orders taking precedence.

The efficiency of a crypto matching engine is crucial for providing a smooth and reliable trading experience on a cryptocurrency exchange. It must be capable of handling a high volume of orders, providing low-latency order matching, and maintaining the integrity of the order book. The order book in itself is a real-time record of all buy and sell orders for a particular crypto asset pairing. It is usually organized by price and time.

How Does a Matching Engine Work?

The inner workings of a crypto matching engine are certainly complex but can be understood by spotlighting all of its major components and functionalities. The core functionalities include Order book management, Matching criteria, Price-time priority, Immediate or Cancel (IOC) and Fill or Kill Orders (FOK), scaling for higher frequency, and risk management. An explanation of each component is presented in the table below;


At Orderly, our infrastructure delivers CEX-like experiences in DeFi for traders and builders — all thanks to our agile matching engine that guarantees low latency for high-frequency trading strategies with all trades submitted on-chain to ensure transparency, while users keep custody of their funds.

Why Matching Engines are Important in Crypto Trading

A matching engine plays a pivotal role in crypto trading by ensuring the efficient and accurate execution of buy and sell orders on an exchange. Its importance lies in its ability to facilitate the matching of these orders in real-time and determine the fair market price at which transactions occur. The matching engine achieves this by managing the order book and employing the principle of price-time priority to swiftly identify suitable matches, fostering a transparent and equitable trading environment.

Furthermore, the matching engine is indispensable for maintaining market liquidity and price stability. As a high-performance component, it can handle a significant volume of trades per second, which is crucial for accommodating the demands of active cryptocurrency markets. The engine’s efficiency in trade execution, coupled with its ability to adapt to changing market conditions, ensures that traders can swiftly enter or exit positions.

In this way, the matching engine not only streamlines the trading process but also contributes to the overall integrity and functionality of cryptocurrency exchanges, fostering a vibrant and responsive marketplace for digital assets.


The functioning of a matching engine is a critical component that underpins the efficiency and reliability of crypto exchanges. Understanding how these engines operate provides traders with insights into the mechanics of order execution, helping them navigate the complexities of the crypto market. As the crypto landscape continues to evolve, the role of matching engines will remain pivotal in ensuring the seamless execution of trades and maintaining the integrity of the trading ecosystem.

In follow-up articles, we will have further deep dives into matching engines, placing a spotlight on Orderly’s matching engine and its pivotal role in our innovative decentralized orderbook infrastructure.

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