Retail foreign exchange trading is a relatively small but rapidly growing segment of the larger foreign exchange market where individuals speculate on the exchange rate between different currencies.
This segment’s genesis and subsequent explosive growth was facilitated by the advent of the internet and dedicated electronic trading platforms which allowed individuals to access the global currency markets. In 2016, it was reported that volume from retail foreign exchange trading represented approximately 5.5% of the entire foreign exchange market (Approx $282 billion in daily trading turnover).
Prior to the development of forex trading platforms in the late 90s, forex trading was restricted to large multinational corporations, asset managers, and financial institutions who transacted – typically by telephone – in trades sizes of a minimum of approx $1,000,000 USD, and typically greater than $5,000,000.
Online retail forex trading didn’t really exist until the late 1990s and was facilitated & accelerated by the confluence of several concurrent factors of that time: 1. Development of the internet & widespread adoption of high-speed broadband, 2. development of more powerful trading software, 3. FX brokers allowing trading on margin, and 4. adoption by FX brokers of the practice of allowing FX trades in much smaller trade sizes, typically approx $100,000 USD and even as low as $10,000 (in the case of the FXCM “minis”) which was more palatable to retail FX traders.
Today, traders are able to trade spot currencies with market makers on margin. This mean they need to put down only a small percentage of the trade size and can buy and sell currencies in seconds.
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