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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 🙂

 

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Upcoming Holiday in Japan on November 4th

31 October 2019

There is a public holiday in Japan on Monday, 4th of November. Kindly note that during this time spreads may be wider and liquidity may be thinner. Bank holidays may also give rise to changes on the applicable swap rates.

There is a public holiday in Japan on Monday, 4th of November. Kindly note that during this time spreads may be wider and liquidity may be thinner. Bank holidays may also give rise to changes on the applicable swap rates. For any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to info@darwinex.com.

apalancamiento esma

Upcoming Holiday In New Zealand Resulting In The Possibility Of Wider Spread

25 October 2019

Please be aware that there is a public holiday in New Zealand on Monday, October 28th during which spreads may be wider and liquidity may be thinner. For any questions, reach out to info@darwinex.com.

Please be aware that there is a public holiday in New Zealand on Monday, October 28th during which spreads may be wider and liquidity may be thinner. For any questions, reach out to info@darwinex.com.

apalancamiento esma

MetaTrader and Wine / PlayOnMac incompatibility on MacOS Catalina

18 October 2019

We’d like to inform you that MetaTrader terminals are currently not working correctly when using Wine or PlayOnMac on MacOS Catalina. CodeWeavers (developers of Wine) are already working on fixing this. We recommend that if you use Wine or PlayOnMac on MacOS, you postpone updating the operating system to MacOS Catalina until a solution is […]

We’d like to inform you that MetaTrader terminals are currently not working correctly when using Wine or PlayOnMac on MacOS Catalina. CodeWeavers (developers of Wine) are already working on fixing this.

We recommend that if you use Wine or PlayOnMac on MacOS, you postpone updating the operating system to MacOS Catalina until a solution is ready.

In the meantime, users who are already affected can continue using MetaTrader on MacOS by installing Windows as an alternative OS or by using Parallels.

For any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@darwinex.com.

apalancamiento esma

Margin increase on 18 October 2019 (Professional Clients only)

17 October 2019

Please be informed that our margin requirements for Professional Clients are changing on Friday (18 October 2019) around 17:00 UK time due to the uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations. Retail Clients are not affected by this change. The new margin requirements described below will remain in force until further notice. In this connection, please note that the new margin requirements […]

Please be informed that our margin requirements for Professional Clients are changing on Friday (18 October 2019) around 17:00 UK time due to the uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations. Retail Clients are not affected by this change.

The new margin requirements described below will remain in force until further notice.

In this connection, please note that the new margin requirements will affect both EXISTING and NEW positions. Kindly make sure you have enough available margin / equity in your account for the days leading up to and during the voting/announcement of results.

 

 

Instrument Current Margin New Margin (Brexit)
FOREX
EURAUD 1.00% 2.00%
EURCAD 1.00% 2.00%
EURCHF 1.00% 2.00%
EURGBP 0.50% 2.00%
EURJPY 0.50% 2.00%
EURNOK 1.00% 2.00%
EURNZD 1.00% 2.00%
EURUSD 0.50% 2.00%
GBPAUD 1.00% 2.00%
GBPCAD 1.00% 2.00%
GBPCHF 1.00% 2.00%
GBPJPY 0.50% 2.00%
GBPNOK 1.00% 2.00%
GBPNZD 1.00% 2.00%
GBPSEK 1.00% 2.00%
GBPUSD 0.50% 2.00%
COMMODITIES
XAUUSD 0.50% 2.00%
INDICES
STOXX50E 2.00% 3.00%
UK100 2.00% 3.00%

 

For the ease of reference, Margin in % =  (1/max. leverage)* 100. In other words:

0.50 % = 1:200 leverage

1.00 % = 1:100 leverage

2.00 % = 1:50 leverage, etc.

Need help? At info@darwinex.com we’ll be happy to assist you!

 

Brexit

apalancamiento esma

Potential High Volatility upon Market Open on Sunday Oct 20th

15 October 2019

We’d like to inform our traders of the possible extraordinary UK parliamentary sitting on Saturday October 19th, 2019 where a vote may be held on any Brexit deal achieved at the EU Council meeting this week.

We’d like to inform our traders of the possible extraordinary UK parliamentary sitting on Saturday October 19th, 2019 where a vote may be held on any Brexit deal achieved at the EU Council meeting this week.

Due to the uncertainty created by this event, we urge our traders to proceed cautiously as market moves may be large. Particular attention should be paid to the market open on Sunday October 20th, where there is potential for high volatility which may cause market gaps.

To manage their account effectively, traders should review margin rates and that there is sufficient collateral to cover their exposure.

For any questions, reach out to info@darwinex.com and we’ll be happy to help.

End of DST in Europe (October 27th 2019)

Please note that Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends in Europe on Sunday October 27th 2019 but our MT4 nd MT5 servers’ time is not changing until Sunday November 3rd 2019 when DST ends in the US.

Please note that Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends in Europe on Sunday October 27th 2019 but our MT4 nd MT5 servers’ time is not changing until Sunday November 3rd 2019 when DST ends in the US.

This means that there will be 1 week (October 27th through November 2nd) where, for European users, most markets will open 1 hour earlier than during European DST, e.g. FX market will open at 21:01 GMT; commodities will open at 22:01 GMT.

Instrument Trading Hours (GMT)
FX 21:05 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 21:04 daily) 
DARWINS 21:05 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 20:59 – 21:05 daily)
COMM.  
Gold 22:01 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 20:59 – 22:01 daily)
Silver 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
Platinum 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
Palladium 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
US Crude 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
Natural Gas 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
INDICES  
Australia 200 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
Europe 50 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
France 40 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
Germany 30 01:30 – 21:00 (Mon – Fri)
Spain 35 07:00 – 19:00 (Mon – Fri)
Japan 225 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
UK 100 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
US SPX 500 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
US Tech 100 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
Wall Street 30 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)
US STOCKS 13:31 -19:59 (Mon – Fri)
CRYPTO 22:00 Sun – 20:55 Fri (except 21:00 – 22:00 daily)

As always, at info@darwinex.com we’ll be glad to assist you with any question you may have!

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 66 % 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.