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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

Trading Hours for the US Martin Luther King Day on 21st January 2019

15 January 2019

Please note that the following trading hours will apply on Monday 21st January 2019. All times are in GMT+0 (London) time. Commodities   Monday 21st January 2019 Gold 23:01 Sun – 18:00 Mon Silver 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon Platinum 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon Palladium 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon US Crude 23:00 Sun – 17:45 […]

Please note that the following trading hours will apply on Monday 21st January 2019. All times are in GMT+0 (London) time.

Commodities   Monday 21st January 2019
Gold 23:01 Sun – 18:00 Mon
Silver 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon
Platinum 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon
Palladium 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon
US Crude 23:00 Sun – 17:45 Mon
US Natural Gas 23:00 Sun – 17:45 Mon
Indices
J225 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon
SPX500 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon
NDX 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon
WS30 23:00 Sun – 18:00 Mon

 


The rest of the assets will trade according to their usual trading time.

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

Navidad

Darwinex Trading Hours for the 2018 Christmas & New Year Holiday Period

18 December 2018

Christmas is around the corner! Please find below the Darwinex Trading Schedule for the 2018 Christmas and New Year Holiday Period (all times are displayed in UK time and changes to regular trading hours are highlighted in red). Also note that during the Cristmas and New Year holiday period spreads may widen and swaps may […]

Christmas is around the corner!

Please find below the Darwinex Trading Schedule for the 2018 Christmas and New Year Holiday Period (all times are displayed in UK time and changes to regular trading hours are highlighted in red).

Also note that during the Cristmas and New Year holiday period spreads may widen and swaps may be affected by the ‘turn’ effect. The ‘turn’ effect is a phenomenon that exists in financial markets which is caused by supply and demand for funding over key dates such as year or quarter-end. This can create anomalies in the forward curves for certain currencies, and we are already beginning to see this priced into the year-end swap points that we receive from our liquidity providers.

Christmas 2018

DARWINs Monday 24th December Tuesday 25th December Wednesday 26th December
All DARWINs 22:05 Sun – 18:45 Mon Closed 22:05 Tue – 21:59 Wed
FX Monday 24th December Tuesday 25th December Wednesday 26th December
All FX Instruments 22:05 Sun – 18:45 Mon Closed 22:01:01 Tue – 21:59:50 Wed
Commodities Monday 24th December Tuesday 25th December Wednesday 26th December
Gold 23:01 Sun – 18:45 Mon Closed 23:01 Tue – 21:59 Wed
Silver 23:00 Sun – 18:45 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 21:50:50 Wed
Platinum 23:00 Sun – 18:45 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
Palladium 23:00 Sun – 18:45 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
US Crude 23:00 Sun – 18:30 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
US Natural Gas 23:00 Sun – 18:30 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
Indices Monday 24th December Tuesday 25th December Wednesday 26th December
AUS200 23:00 Sun – 03:30 Mon Closed Closed
STOXX50E Closed Closed Closed
FCHI40 23:00 Sun – 13:00 Mon Closed Closed
GDAXI Closed Closed Closed
J225 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon Closed Closed
SPA35 07:00 – 13:00 Closed Closed
UK100 23:00 Sun – 12:50 Mon Closed Closed
SPX500 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon Closed Closed
NDX 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon Closed Closed
WS30 23:00 Sun – 18:15 Mon Closed Closed
US Stocks Monday 24th December Tuesday 25th December Wednesday 26th December
All US stocks 14:31 – 17:59 Closed 14:31 – 20:59
Crypto Monday 24th December Tuesday 25th December Wednesday 26th December
All Crypto Instruments 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue 22:05 Tue – 22:00 Wed


New Year 2019

DARWINs Monday 31st December Tuesday 1st January Wednesday 2nd January
All DARWINs 22:05 Sun – 21:59 Mon Closed 22:05 Tue – 21:59 Wed
FX Monday 31st December Tuesday 1st January Wednesday 2nd January
All FX Instruments 22:05 Sun – 21:59:50 Mon Closed 22:01:01 Tue – 21:59:50 Wed
Commodities Monday 31st December Tuesday 1st January Wednesday 2nd January
Gold 23:01 Sun – 21:59 Mon Closed 23:01 Tue – 21:59 Wed
Silver 23:00 Sun – 21:59:50 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 21:50:50 Wed
Platinum 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
Palladium 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
US Crude 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
US Natural Gas 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
Indices Monday 31st December Tuesday 1st January Wednesday 2nd January
AUS200 23:00 Sun – 03:30 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
STOXX50E Closed Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
FCHI40 23:00 Sun – 13:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
GDAXI Closed Closed 07:00 – 21:00
J225 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
SPA35 07:00 – 13:00 Closed 07:00 – 19:00
UK100 23:00 Sun – 12:50 Mon Closed Closed
SPX500 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
NDX 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
WS30 23:00 Sun – 22:00 Mon Closed 23:00 Tue – 22:00 Wed
US Stocks Monday 31st December Tuesday 1st January Wednesday 2nd January
All US stocks 14:31 – 20:59 Closed 14:31 – 20:59
Crypto Monday 31st December Tuesday 1st January Wednesday 2nd January
All Crypto Instruments 22:05 Sun – 22:00 Mon 22:05 Mon – 22:00 Tue 22:05 Tue – 22:00 Wed

 


As always, if you have any queries, please feel free to contact us at info@darwinex.com.

The Darwinex Team wishes you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

apalancamiento esma

UK Parliament Vote on EU Withdrawal Bill (11 December 2018)

9 December 2018

We would like to remind you that the UK Parliament will vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill on 11th December 2018. There is a high degree of uncertainty as to the outcome of the vote and all GBP currency crosses are likely to experience significant volatility with increased risk of market gaps. It is important that you […]

We would like to remind you that the UK Parliament will vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill on 11th December 2018.

There is a high degree of uncertainty as to the outcome of the vote and all GBP currency crosses are likely to experience significant volatility with increased risk of market gaps.

It is important that you have sufficient margin coverage and are comfortable with the exposure on your account as our margin requirements may change going into the vote or depending on the outcome of the vote.

Please feel free to contact us at info@darwinex.com should you need assistance in this regard.

Amended Trading Hours US National Day of Mourning on December 5th 2018

4 December 2018

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US National Day of Mourning on December 5th 2018. All times are in UK (GMT+0) time.    Instrument December 5th 2018  INDICES    US SPX 500 23:00 Tue – 14:45 Wed  US Tech 100 23:00 Tue – 14:45 Wed Wall Street 30 23:00 Tue – 14:45 Wed […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US National Day of Mourning on December 5th 2018. All times are in UK (GMT+0) time.


 

 Instrument December 5th 2018
 INDICES  
 US SPX 500 23:00 Tue – 14:45 Wed
 US Tech 100 23:00 Tue – 14:45 Wed
Wall Street 30 23:00 Tue – 14:45 Wed
 STOCKS  
US Stocks CLOSED

 


The rest of the assets will trade according to their usual trading time. As always, at info@darwinex.com we’ll be happy to assist you!

Amended Trading Hours for the 2018 US Thanksgiving Holidays (Nov. 22nd and 23rd)

20 November 2018

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Thanksgiving holiday period on 22nd and 23rd of November 2018. All times are in UK (GMT+0) time.    Instrument November 22nd 2018 November 23rd 2018  COMMODITIES     Gold 23:01 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:01 Thu – 18:40 Fri Silver 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – […]

Please note the amended Darwinex trading hours for the upcoming US Thanksgiving holiday period on 22nd and 23rd of November 2018. All times are in UK (GMT+0) time.

 


 Instrument November 22nd 2018 November 23rd 2018
 COMMODITIES    
Gold 23:01 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:01 Thu – 18:40 Fri
Silver 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:40 Fri
Platinum 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:40 Fri
Palladium 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:40 Fri
US Crude 23:00 Wed – 17:44 Thu 23:00 Thu – 17:25 Fri
Natural Gas 23:00 Wed – 17:44 Thu 23:00 Thu – 17:25 Fri
 INDICES    
Japan 225 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu  23:00 Thu – 18:10 Fri 
 US SPX 500 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:10 Fri 
 US Tech 100 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:10 Fri 
Wall Street 30 23:00 Wed – 17:59 Thu 23:00 Thu – 18:10 Fri 
 STOCKS    
US Stocks CLOSED 14:31 Fri – 17:59 Fri 

 

The rest of the assets will trade according to their usual trading time. As always, at info@darwinex.com we’ll be happy to assist you!

apalancamiento esma

Bitcoin Cash (XBNUSD) trading suspended until further notice

7 November 2018

The BCH fork on November 15th may create a split in the BCH instrument resulting in two currencies, BCH and BSV. Due to the uncertainly around this event, at Darwinex we’ve decided to suspend opening of any new XBNUSD trades with immediate effect.

As traders trading cryptocurrency CFDs sure know, the BCH fork on November 15th may create a split in the BCH instrument (XBNUSD as provided by our liquidity provider LMAX) resulting in two currencies, BCH and BSV.

Due to the uncertainly around this event, at Darwinex we’ve decided to suspend opening of any new XBNUSD trades with immediate effect.

We’ll contact Darwinex traders with open positions in XBNUSD and recommend them to close their positions because as of November 15th our liquidity provider will stop offering liquidity for XBNUSD for an unknown period of time.

For any questions, please contact us at info@darwinex.com.

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 77 % of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.