Trading Platforms to Trade Forex – Introducing MetaTrader
A Forex trader can take a trade in his/her account by accessing the account via a trading platform. The trading platform is the link between the retail trader and the Forex market. Traders inputs (decisions to buy or sell a specific currency pair at any one moment of time) are executed automatically and the Forex broker makes sure the trading platform is up and running all the time. Servers are being placed in different parts of the world, with backup solutions and dedicated teams that supervise their activity. The time of the server (and basically its location) is being seen on the trading platform and it influences the way the candles (in case candlestick charts are being used) are closing. This is an issue with many traders, and we’ll come back to this subject later in a different article here on our Trading Academy.
Types of Trading Platforms
As mentioned above, a trading platform connects the trader with the marketplace. Trading platforms are managed by Forex brokers, and the more options a trader has, the better. Trading platforms are dividing into two main categories: web-based platforms and independent ones. Both give access to the trading account, but there are some advantages and disadvantages to being mentioned.
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Web-Based Trading Platforms
This is the easiest way to connect to a trading account and take a trade. For a web-based trading platform, there is no need for downloading anything, only a solid Internet connection will do the trick. The advantage of trading via a web-based trading platform is the fact that there is no need for anything to be download. When opening a trading account, traders receive an email with the login data to use: their username and password for accessing the trading account. This is everything a trader needs to connect to the trading account. However, web-based trading platforms are not that popular in the sense that few traders are using them. A good Internet connection is not something to be found easy in all places and that makes the platform to run with difficulties. Moreover, such trading platforms “eat” a lot of a PC’s resources, and therefore, any other activity is slow and takes a longer period than usual. A slow Internet connection can result in missing some trades due to poor entries caused by a bigger slippage at execution. All in all, these trading platforms are not the favorite way to access a trading account, but they are being offered by brokers to cover all the possibilities to access the trading account.
Independent Trading Platforms
An independent trading platforms is one that is other than a web-based platform. To trade with such a trading platform, one needs to download a piece of software. Typically, the MetaTrader is the trading platform offered by ALL Forex brokers, unless they have an in-house built one. To access a trading account via the MetaTrader platform, a trader receives a link to download the software, together with the information needed to connect the platform to the trading account. Installing the MetaTrader is simple as there are a few short steps to follow, and, before you know it, it is installed in your PC. The next step is to connect to the trading account.
For that, traders need to know the server to be chosen from the list available (this information is being provided by the Forex broker as well) and the login info. The right combination results in having access to the trading account.
MetaTrader comes in two versions: MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. Not all brokers offer both options, but some are forced to do that due to heavy regulation in their jurisdiction. Let me explain this in more details. In some parts of the world, like in the United States of America, Forex brokers are bound to respect heavy regulation. The regulatory body in the United States doesn’t permit brokers to allow hedging in trader’s accounts and trading should respect the FIFO (First in First Out) rule. These imposed conditions are not possible to be followed on the MetaTrader 4 platform. Therefore, either the Forex broker is offering the MetaTrader 5 option (which is built to respect the conditions mentioned earlier) or a different trading platform that will respect those rules. A different trading platform is usually an in-house built one. This means the Forex broker has a dedicated team for developing and maintaining the trading platform, but the trading principle is the same: based on a username and password, traders access the trading platform and trading account. The disadvantage of having an in-house trading platform is the fact that it is expensive to build and maintain one. Moreover, traders will need to learn to use it, which is not something too many people are willing to do. In comparison, the MetaTrader platforms are the same at any broker, which makes them so popular. No matter the broker, trading and charting are the same as the platform is the same. Now it is becoming clear why the MetaTrader is the most popular trading platform among Forex traders: it is difficult to switch to another platform once you’ve learned to use it. It has amazing features, like building and testing your own EX (Expert Advisor), importing new indicators, etc. On top of that, there is a strong community, the MQL community, that has an answer to any problem may appear. Any info regarding the MetaTrader platforms can be found by simply going to mgl.com (the dedicated website) and searching the forums or simply ask a question. There are other trading platforms offered by brokers, like the JForex trading platform or the c-Trader, but they are far from matching the MetaTrader potential. The JForex, for example, is a trading platform based on Java.This is both a good and a bad thing, but because Java is running in the background makes the computer really slow. While the trading platform is looking good (it offers more technical indicators when compared with the MetaTrader), this Java think is quite an inconvenient. The c-Trader trading platform is a relatively new one, it doesn’t take so many resources like the JForex, but still traders need to learn to trade with it. As a trader, I can tell you one thing: this is what traders want to avoid, and opening a trading account with a broker that offers a new trading platform should happen only if there is some other incentive, like a promotion or something. If not, traders will look for brokers that offer the MetaTrader, and this says much about the popularity of it. The articles that follow will cover the MetaTrader 4 trading platform and explore its vast possibilities.
Recommended Further Readings
- Forex Trading – Explaining the Concept
– What is forex trading, generalities about trading the currency market.
- Opening a Live Trading Account
– Steps to open a live trading account with a Forex broker, starting with the time taken for the whole process, documentation to be sent, verification process, trading platforms to download, etc.
- What are “Lots” in Forex Trading
– Explaining the concept of a lot of Forex trading, and from that heading to micro-lots, different trading accounts, and broker’s limitations.
- Volume and Slippage – Value of a Pip and Execution Types
– Execution is important to every Forex trading and this article deals with the difficulties to trade big volumes with little or n- slippage.
- Basic Trading Styles – At Market or with Pending Orders
– Showing the possibilities a trader has, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of trading at the market or with pending orders.
- Pending Orders Explained
– Different types of pending orders, how to set them, where to find them on the MetaTrader platform, and much more.
Other Educational Materials
- “Evolutionary Approach to Forex Expert Advisor Generation.” Ibrahim, Alaa Eldin M. Intelligent Information Management 2014 (2014).
- “Neural networks in finance: gaining predictive edge in the market” PD McNelis