The forex market is by far the largest financial market in the world, and to participate in it as a speculator (retail forex trader), you need a platform. Basically, forex trading platforms are “consoles” from which traders can view, analyze, and place orders. These orders are received by the broker which then executes them. Therefore, a forex trading platform is a bridge between the trader and the broker – the trader’s connection to the market.
There are a host of forex trading platforms today, and time will fail me to touch upon all of them. Therefore, in this post, I will be going through the most prominent types/categories of forex trading platforms available to traders today.
Types and Categories of Forex Trading Platforms
There are several types of forex trading platforms. The most popular ones are:
- MetaTrader 4&5
- Ninja Trader 7&8
For simplicity, the remaining types of forex trading platforms fall into one or more of the categories below:
- Proprietary platforms
- Web-based platforms
- Mobile platforms
The MetaTrader platforms were developed by the MetaQuotes Software Corporation. MetaTrader 4 was released in 2005 and has since been adopted by multiple brokers. It is a simple, yet powerful trading platform. It supports the use of automation in trading through its mql4 language. MetaTrader 4 is the most popular trading platform on the planet. You can learn more about MetaTrader 4 here.
MetaTrader 5 was released in 2010, 5 years after the release of MT4. While surpassing it in functionality, MT5 still sits behind its predecessor in usage/acceptance. It also supports a wide range of custom programs coded in its mql5 language. You can also learn more about MetaTrader 5, here.
Both MetaTrader platforms have been adopted by numerous forex brokers making them both the most used trading platforms in the world.
Another big player on the global forex trading platform scene is the Ninja Trader. Ninja Trader’s latest release Ninja Trader 8 improves upon its predecessor Ninja Trader 7 with improvements such as better backtesting, charting, and historical bid/ask data.
Ninja Trader while it has a free version, also has paid versions which offer more functionality. This is not so with the MetaTrader platforms as all the features are free.
Ninja Trader was developed for futures and options trading alongside forex, with Ninja Trader running a brokerage service and are regulated in the USA by the NFA.
cTrader was developed by Spotware Systems which was created in 2010. They have since risen to spotlight in their business of providing trading software. The cTrader has over 70 out-of-the-box indicators and also supports automated trading. It also contains a direct copy-trade interface.
Proprietary platforms are trading platforms created by forex brokers which cannot be used by others. These platforms are made specific to the broker which created it. These platforms can exist as desktop applications, web-applications, and mobile applications.
In addition to trading through a desktop application, forex trading can also be done on web browsers through the use of web-based applications. These web-based applications vary widely. The three previously mentioned platforms all have web-based versions. This allows traders to still be able to trade with the platform without having to install the applications.
Web-based applications are also offered by different brokers, with some not adopting the popular platforms, but instead, choose to go with their proprietary platforms.
With the emergence and advancement in mobile technology, brokers and software developers saw the need to create forex trading platforms for mobile devices. These new platforms gave room to trading on-the-go without having to use a PC. The MetaTrader and cTrader platforms have mobile versions, while forex brokers have independently also developed their own mobile platforms.
In conclusion, forex trading platforms are very crucial in trading forex. Therefore, it is advised that a fully-functional, easily navigable platform is chosen to avoid mistakes and problems that can lead to loss of funds. An ideal forex trading platform must be fast, user-friendly, and should not be prone to hiccups.
In essence, find what works for you, what you are comfortable with. Also, always test the platform preferably with a demo account before loading it with real cash.
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