Trading Platforms to Trade Forex – Introducing MetaTrader

A Forex trader can take a trade in their 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 in time) are executed automatically, and to this end the Forex broker makes sure the trading platform is up and running all the time. Servers are placed in different parts of the world, with back-up solutions and dedicated teams that supervise their activity. The time of the server (and basically its location) is seen on the trading platform, and it influences the way the candles (if candlestick charts are being used) close. 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 that warrant a mention.

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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 to download anything; 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 downloaded. When opening a trading account, traders receive an email with the necessary log-in data: 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 use them. A good Internet connection is not something to be found easily in all places in the world, and it can make running the platform difficult. Moreover, such trading platforms consume a lot of a PC’s resources, and as a result 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 favourite way to access a trading account, but they are offered by brokers to cover all the possible ways of accessing the trading account.

Independent Trading Platforms

An independent trading platform is any one 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 built their own in-house 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 only a few short steps to follow, and before you know it, it is installed on your PC. The next step is to connect to the trading account.
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For that, traders need to know which server to choose from the list available (this information is provided by the Forex broker as well) and the log-in info. The right combination results in the trader gaining access to the trading account.
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MetaTrader comes in two versions: MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. Not all brokers offer both options, but some are forced to do so due to heavy regulation in their jurisdiction. Let me explain this in more detail: In some parts of the world, such as in the USA, Forex brokers are bound to respect heavy regulation. The regulatory body in the United States doesn’t permit brokers to allow hedging in traders’ accounts, and trading must respect the First in First Out (FIFO) rule. It is not possible to follow these imposed conditions on the MetaTrader 4 platform, and so the Forex broker offers either 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 the platform’s  own in-house one. This means that 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 on any broker’s platform, which makes them so popular. Regardless of the broker, trading and charting are the same, as the platform is the same.

Now it should be 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, such as building and testing your own Expert Advisor (EX), importing new indicators, etc. On top of that, there is a strong community, the MQL community, that has an answer to any problem that may appear. Any information regarding the MetaTrader platforms can be found by simply going to mgl.com (the dedicated website) and searching the forums, or simply by asking a question.

There are other trading platforms offered by brokers, such as the JForex trading platform, or the c-Trader, but they are a long way from matching the MetaTrader’s potential. JForex, for example, is a trading platform based on Java.This is both a good and a bad thing; because Java is running in the background it makes the computer really slow. While the trading platform looks good (it offers more technical indicators when compared with the MetaTrader), this Java issue is quite an inconvenience.

The c-Trader trading platform is a relatively new one. It doesn’t take up as many resources as JForex, but traders still 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, such as a promotion or something else beneficial. 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.

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