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Retail forex trading to be banned in Europe?

23 August 2016

Last week saw a potentially momentous move by a European regulator – the Belgian market authority banned  the distribution of some OTC derivatives to retail counterparties. The move is likely not to stay isolated. ESMA, the pan-european regulator has recently issued yet another warning. The regulatory radar has firmly focused on the sector – with trends in the US pointing in a similar direction.

In effect, Belgian’s move might be a first in a movement to gradually ban OTC trading of binary options, spot forex contracts and CFDs (Contracts for differences). We have received a lot of customer questions asking how this affects Darwinex. This blog post outlines why we think it was about time that regulators stepped in, and why it validates many of the structural choices we’ve made in servicing the independent trader movement.

Why retail forex OTC is wrong …

An OTC contract allows two counterparties to trade with each other in conditions that both adhere to. It has the potential benefit that anything can be traded, provided both parties agree to it. It can work well between evenly capitalised and knowledgeable parties (e.g. UBS and GS) – although one wonders if even institutions understand the economics behind the clauses they sign.

Offer OTC trading to retail customers (e.g. remove the “equally capitalised and knowledgeable” provision), and OTC means trouble. Take, for instance, a retail broker-dealer, advertising the following bet to any novice retail trader:

  1. Bet on the “price of the EURUSD” as published (e.g. SET) defined by the dealer
  2. The retail broker-dealer and the retail trader agree to settle the differences in the price set by the dealer
  3. The broker-dealer throws in the bonus option of multiplying any movement in the underlying up to 500 times – which can greatly amplify the wins! (and the losses)

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 12.50.37

We know where this ends: retail investors losing their shirts. Note: the blame doesn’t only lie with the broker-dealer, he didn’t impose the 500:1 leverage choice on the trader – greed and ignorance did. Having said that, there are 2 RED flags in the above set-up:

  1. A retail-dealer’s business model largely is pocketing the losses greatly compromises its incentives.
  2. A retail-dealer sets the price of the underlying – e.g. it’s both a player betting its own capital and a referee in the same game.

Not saying that all dealers incentivise their customers to do silly things – but given how profitable the above meat grinder is, is it realistic to expect them to stop customers blow themselves up?

There you go. That’s why the Belgian ban is likely not to be the last we hear on the topic. It only took 10 years, but the good news is:

  1. Regulators have finally stepped in
  2. The alternative solution has long existed (we’ve offered it all along!)
  3. We’ll (Darwinex) stop feeling like fools for doing the right thing and losing out to morally loose competition

… And why retail OTC is obsolete

If you think this problem is new, think again. This has happened every time a new investment opportunity came up.

The solution has long existed. It is to create a “marketplace” – commonly referred to as “Exchange” for financial instruments. Rather than trade bilaterally (pairwise) with bespoke (OTC) conditions with each other, a new central counterparty (CCP) is created, that trades a single standardised contract acting as the middleman that anonymously connects all participants with each other. Read this to understand the difference. This levels the playing field in a way that makes it structurally impossible for anyone party to abuse the market without making itself vulnerable to arbitrage.

There is one situation in which marketplaces don’t work well: with non-standard contracts. Without critical mass in liquidity, it’s too difficult to make a marketplace work, and in that situation market makers are probably better suited than a central counterparty. This is the reason why retail forex trading started OTC: even though no asset is more plain vanilla than spot foreign exchange, 10-15 years ago 1) it wasn’t possible to trade micro-lots in the interbank market, 2) there weren’t as many retail market participants as there are today.

Fast forward to today, and the restrictions are gone. You can trade micro-lots with Goldman Sachs on a marketplace / Exchange. Betfair founded LMAX, the first MiFID compliant multilateral trading facility (MTF) for foreign exchange and CFDs. We have been with LMAX from our very beginning because a) we think it’s the right way and b) we didn’t want to be caught off-guard when regulators (finally) acted.

Why the ban doesn’t affect Darwinex, now or going forward

We have consciously chosen to:

  1. Align ourselves with traders by
    1. Operate a matched principal model. We are a pure broker that trades with customers. We gain NOTHING when customers lose.
    2. Offering a platform allowing traders to legally scale their strategies with investor monies – removing their structural need to over-leverage
  2. Offer unique technology & tools to
    1. Inform traders, amongst others, of the risk (Value at Risk) in their strategies
    2. Protect investors when markets become riskier or traders over-leverage
  3. Trade on Exchange – by sourcing
    1. All of our CFD offering from a regulated Multilateral trading facility – e.g. Darwinex CFDs are NOT OTC.
    2. Part of our FX flow from a regulated Multilateral trading facility – e.g. part of our FX flow is NOT OTC

Furthermore, this is the reason why we’ll soon be offering Futures trading – we’ve simply had it with the stigma condemning even the clean guys in the forex sector.

The only reason we don’t source all our FX flow from LMAX Exchange is that LMAX suffers (and will suffer) from adverse selection until the ban spreads beyond Belgium. Because it doesn’t tolerate last look by LPs, and because it allows any participant (e.g. it doesn’t ban winning traders, regardless of strategies), it has historically been less competitive on raw spread comparisons – LPs offer wider spreads to protect themselves from winning traders, who tend to concentrate with LMAX once they’re banned by retail dealers.

Put it another way: a casino admitting winners offers worse (and worsening!) odds than casinos banning winners. Being as competitive price-wise as possible, together with the need to have a backup provider, is the reason why we partially aggregate liquidity from other parties on an OTC basis. If the regulatory push to trade on Exchange goes Europe (or world) – wide, we will continue servicing customers – this time without the commercial penalty we incur for NOT pocketing their losses.

In other words: rest assured that once this healthy regulatory movement comes full circle, both the independent trader movement and Darwinex will benefit even more from being structurally aligned for profit exchange. Please do not hesitate to highlight points that warrant further clarification – as this post will likely attract long term readership 🙂

 

Last News

Vote Darwinex

1 August 2017

Darwinex has been shortlisted as a candidate for the European Fintech Awards 2017. In order to make it to the final round, we’d need to get as many votes as possible. It’d mean everything to us if you could please click here to vote for Darwinex . It won’t take you more than 20 seconds, you’d just […]

Darwinex has been shortlisted as a candidate for the European Fintech Awards 2017.

In order to make it to the final round, we’d need to get as many votes as possible. It’d mean everything to us if you could please click here to vote for Darwinex .

It won’t take you more than 20 seconds, you’d just need to click the link above and click the blue “Vote Darwinex” button.

Big thank you as always, please spread the word!

 

 

 

 

 

And the DarwinIA winners are…

The July edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period. Place DARWIN July’s notional allocation 1st $ATL € 300,000.00 2nd $LVS € 250,000.00 3rd $FGC € 210,000.00 4th $KVL € 170,000.00 5th $CLA € 150,000.00 6th […]

The July edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period.

Place DARWIN July’s notional allocation
1st $ATL € 300,000.00
2nd $LVS € 250,000.00
3rd $FGC € 210,000.00
4th $KVL € 170,000.00
5th $CLA € 150,000.00
6th $WPB € 140,000.00
7th $JKC € 130,000.00
8th $SPI € 120,000.00
9th $MOW € 110,000.00
10th $WPQ € 110,000.00
11th $STM € 110,000.00
12th $DZT € 100,000.00
13th $THA € 100,000.00
14th $TUL € 100,000.00
15th $DOF € 90,000.00
16th $MBC € 90,000.00
17th $DDY € 90,000.00
18th $PGH € 80,000.00
19th $BUE € 80,000.00
20th $HFS € 80,000.00
21st $NGS € 70,000.00
22nd $GTD € 70,000.00
23rd $ICX € 70,000.00
24th $WFJ € 70,000.00
25th $AOF € 60,000.00
26th $TKT € 60,000.00
27th $AXF € 60,000.00
28th $XGU € 60,000.00
29th $OOA € 60,000.00
30th $VTJ € 60,000.00
31st $QTB € 50,000.00
32nd $XTT € 50,000.00
33rd $DLF € 50,000.00
34th $CEM € 50,000.00
35th $ENI € 50,000.00
36th $RVU € 50,000.00
37th $ICA € 50,000.00
38th $EII € 40,000.00
39th $RAO € 40,000.00
40th $DNA € 40,000.00
41st $AQA € 40,000.00
42nd $EEE € 40,000.00
43rd $XXR € 40,000.00
44th $YMK € 40,000.00
45th $CSP € 30,000.00
46th $UYZ € 30,000.00
47th $TUB € 30,000.00
48th $KYQ € 30,000.00

Updates to the MetaTrader 4 Platform

20 July 2017

We have been notified by MetaQuotes Software Corp. that as of 1 October 2017 (Sunday), support for Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Windows Vista will be discontinued for the MetaTrader 4 platform. As potential hardware capabilities can no longer be recognised, these operating systems are considered to be outdated. MetaQuotes has stated that Windows 7 […]

We have been notified by MetaQuotes Software Corp. that as of 1 October 2017 (Sunday), support for Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Windows Vista will be discontinued for the MetaTrader 4 platform. As potential hardware capabilities can no longer be recognised, these operating systems are considered to be outdated.

MetaQuotes has stated that Windows 7 is the minimum required operating system version for running MetaTrader 4. However, using the 64-bit versions of Windows 10 is strongly recommended.

Older versions of MetaTrader 4 will continue to work on Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Windows Vista. After 1 October 2017 (Sunday), updates will no longer be received and installers will not run on these operating systems. Without having your MetaTrader 4 up to date, you may not be able to execute trades or have guaranteed stability.

As always, feel free to contact info@darwinex.com if you have any questions or need a solution for this change!

And the DarwinIA winners are…

3 July 2017

The June edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period. Place DARWIN June’s notional allocation 1st UEI € 300,000.00 2nd VQB € 250,000.00 3rd JKC € 210,000.00 4th XIN € 170,000.00 5th DZL € 150,000.00 6th […]

The June edition of our DarwinIA trading challenge came to its end. Below you can find the 48 winners of our € 4,000,000 notional allocation for a 6 month period.

Place DARWIN June’s notional allocation
1st UEI € 300,000.00
2nd VQB € 250,000.00
3rd JKC € 210,000.00
4th XIN € 170,000.00
5th DZL € 150,000.00
6th QTN € 140,000.00
7th JJP € 130,000.00
8th UYZ € 120,000.00
9th LOM € 110,000.00
10th AXF € 110,000.00
11th VQG € 110,000.00
12th MBC € 100,000.00
13th PMZ € 100,000.00
14th GPZ € 100,000.00
15th KDU € 90,000.00
16th FSB € 90,000.00
17th SRK € 90,000.00
18th NEW € 80,000.00
19th ZUV € 80,000.00
20th CLA € 80,000.00
21st ATL € 70,000.00
22nd FMT € 70,000.00
23rd DZT € 70,000.00
24th SPI € 70,000.00
25th HIB € 60,000.00
26th ICA € 60,000.00
27th MOW € 60,000.00
28th ECC € 60,000.00
29th AOF € 60,000.00
30th RSR € 60,000.00
31st LVS € 50,000.00
32nd YHN € 50,000.00
33rd LDD € 50,000.00
34th SQG € 50,000.00
35th XXR € 50,000.00
36th JZH € 50,000.00
37th RWL € 50,000.00
38th OPK € 40,000.00
39th EZX € 40,000.00
40th GDM € 40,000.00
41st KYQ € 40,000.00
42nd VCT € 40,000.00
43rd STT € 40,000.00
44th QTB € 40,000.00
45th VTJ € 30,000.00
46th CJN € 30,000.00
47th LSC € 30,000.00
48th IZT € 30,000.00

Darwinex amended trading hours (US Independence Day)

29 June 2017

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Independence Day holiday on 3 & 4 July 2017 (all times are in UK time).  Instrument 3 July 2017 (Mon) 4 July 2017 (Tue)  FX 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue   DARWINS 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue   COMMODITIES […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Independence Day holiday on 3 & 4 July 2017 (all times are in UK time).

 Instrument 3 July 2017 (Mon) 4 July 2017 (Tue)
 FX 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue
  DARWINS 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 

COMMODITIES

   
Gold* 23:01 Sun – 21:59 Mon 23:01 Mon – 18:00 Tue
Silver* 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 18:00 Tue
Platinum* 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 18:00 Tue
Palladium* 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 18:00 Tue
US Crude* 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 17:45 Tue
Natural Gas* 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 17:45 Tue
 

 INDICES

 
Australia 200 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 Europe 50 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
France 40 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
Germany 30 07:00m – 21:00 07:00m – 21:00
Spain 35 07:00m – 19:00 07:00m – 19:00
Japan 225* 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon 23:00 Mon – 18:00 Tue
 UK 100 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon 23:00 Mon – 22:00 Tue
 US SPX 500* 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon  23:00 Mon – 18:00 Tue
 US Tech 100* 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon  23:00 Mon – 18:00 Tue
Wall Street 30* 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon  23:00 Mon – 18:00 Tue
*Amended Darwinex trading hours.

 

As always, at info@darwinex.com we’ll be happy to assist you!

High volatility expected due to RBNZ Interest Rate decision today

21 June 2017

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is releasing its Interest Rate Decision today (21 June 2017) at 21:00 GMT. As you may recall, trading is disabled from 20:59:59 to 21:01:00 GMT due to the low liquidity available on rollover, so please bear in mind that you won’t be able to open / close trades from […]

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is releasing its Interest Rate Decision today (21 June 2017) at 21:00 GMT.

As you may recall, trading is disabled from 20:59:59 to 21:01:00 GMT due to the low liquidity available on rollover, so please bear in mind that you won’t be able to open / close trades from 20:59:59 to 21:01:00 GMT during this volatile news release.

When setting your SL / TP, kindly note that large gaps are expected when trading resumes at 21:01:00 GMT.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@darwinex.com should you need assistance.