Advanced exchanges such as Kraken and GDAX will allow you to do what is called « pair trading ». Pair trading allows you to trade one fiat currency against one specific cryptocurrency, or cryptocurrency against cryptocurrency. For example, you might have an USD/BTC pair (exchange US Dollars for Bitcoin), or a GBP/ZEC pair (exchange British Pounds for Zcash), or even a BTC/LTC pair (Exchange Bitcoin for Litecoin). Bear in mind however that most exchanges which handle fiat currencies do not manage a lot of cryptocurrencies, only the mainstream ones.
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This is a more advanced topic for those who want to do what is called « day trading », i.e. those who plan to buy and sell on a daily basis as their main activity. Arbitraging is the process of leveraging price differences between exchanges to make a profit, by buying cryptocurrency cheap on a given exchange and selling it for a higher price on a different exchange.
In the professional world, one of the key concepts is diversification. Harry Markowitz is a Nobel prize winning economist and one of his major discoveries was that adding new asset classes can dramatically alter the overall risk profile of a portfolio. His finding was that a portfolio that contained very low risk assets would normally benefit from lower volatility and higher returns if a higher risk asset was added. This is due to the likely lack of correlation between high and low risk asset classes.
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Stock exchanges operate as for-profit institutes and charge a fee for their services. The primary source of income for these stock exchanges are the revenues from the transaction fees that are charged for each trade carried out on its platform. Additionally, exchanges earn revenue from the listing fee charged to companies during the IPO process and other follow-on offerings.