I'm trying to understand how a partial fill would / should happen at an exchange and how that would occur

For example, if the BTC rate was $10/BTC and

  • Someone wanted to buy 100 BTC at $10

The only sellers were

  • One seller wants to sell 50 coins for $10 USD
  • One seller wants to sell 50 coins for $9.90 USD


  1. Would the final transaction not be completed because not enough matching shares were available? (fair benefit)

  2. Would the purchaser be charged $10 * 50 + $9.90 * 50 = $995 (purchaser saves $5)

  3. Would the purchaser be charged $1,000 and the price was increased from $9.90 to $10 (seller gains unexpected $5)

  4. Would the exchange purchase the shares at $9.90 and quickly resell them for $10 (exchange benefit)

  5. If #4 occurs, should the exchange still charge a fee on top of profits already made?

What is expected in this scenario?

To put this in better context, I'm comparing #4 to SEC Rule 605 to encourage open reporting and trade equality. Namely requiring market centers (Mt Gox) to disclose the extent to which they provide executions at prices better than the public quotes to investors using limit orders.

  • bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/9832/… didn't examine this question close enough to say if it's a dupe, but it is worth checking.
    – o0'.
    May 22, 2013 at 10:58
  • @Lohoris hmm, if they are dupes this question was asked first (and is a better "question" IMHO) .... ;) May 22, 2013 at 12:14
  • #4 is unethical. So they get to keep the profit for themselves?
    – Pacerier
    Aug 16, 2013 at 12:40
  • @Pacerier Yes, such a manipulation is possible by the "deal matchmaker" who can inflate prices and horde the profits, without letting anyone else know whats happening. It's all anonymous so there is no way to prevent it... unless you have an idea on how to force disclosure Aug 16, 2013 at 12:56
  • related: How do buy and sell orders work?
    – Murch
    Oct 9, 2014 at 7:20

1 Answer 1


(2) is the correct answer, the exchange will match the buy order with the lowest sell orders. This is the case with mtgox. Other exchanges should do the same, however it is up to them, hard to give a general answer here, need to look at each one case by case

(4) is specifically NOT true in case of mtgox because they do not act as counter party to any transaction. Not sure about any other exchange, because they all have their own policies.

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