The Forex (FOReign EXchange) market appeared at the end of the 1970s after many countries decided to unpeg their currency value from that of the US dollar or gold. This led to the formation of an international market on which currency could be exchanged and traded freely. Today, Forex is the largest financial market in the world. It doesn’t matter where you live or even where you are right now; as long as you have access to the Internet, a trading terminal (a special program for trading Forex), and an account with a Forex broker, all the instruments and opportunities of Forex are available to you.
Leveraged trading in foreign currency contracts or other off-exchange products on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for everyone. We advise you to carefully consider whether trading is appropriate for you in light of your personal circumstances. You may lose more than you invest (except for OANDA Europe Ltd customers who have negative balance protection). Information on this website is general in nature. We recommend that you seek independent financial advice and ensure you fully understand the risks involved before trading. Trading through an online platform carries additional risks. Refer to our legal section here.
The forex market consists of trading pairs of international fiat currencies pegged against each other where traders speculate and hedge risk on the price of a specific national currency appreciating or depreciating relative to another currency. Interestingly, there is no central forex exchange, and all trading is open 24 hours a day, more than 5 days a week, with OTC financial trading centers operating in major cities around the world.
In forex, currencies are quoted in pairs. Let’s take the most popular currency pair as an example, EUR/USD. The first currency (Euro in this case) is called the base currency and the second (USD) is called the quote currency. When you trade a pair you are speculating on whether the base currency (EUR) will strengthen or weaken against the quote currency (USD).
Forex pairs trade in 1000, 10,000 and 100,000 units, called micro, mini and standard lots. When starting out in forex day trading it's recommended traders open a micro lot account. Trading micro lots allows for more flexibility so risk remains below 1% of the account on each trade. For example, a micro-lot trader can buy $6,000 worth of currency, or $14,000, or $238,000 but if they open a mini lot account they can only trade in increments of $10,000, so $10,000, $20,000, etc. If trading standard lots, a trader can only take positions of $100,000, $200,000, etc.
How much each pip is worth is called the "pip value." For any pair where the USD is listed second in the currency pair, the above-mentioned pip values apply. If the USD is listed first, the pip value may be slightly different. To find the pip value of the USD/CHF for example, divide the normal pip value (mentioned above) by the current USD/CHF exchange rate. For example, a micro lot is worth $0.10/0.9435 = $0.1060, where 0.9435 is the current price of the pair and subject to change. For JPY pairs (USD/JPY), go through this same process, but then multiply by 100. For a more detailed explanation, see Calculating Pip Value for Different Forex Pairs and Account Currencies.
The forex market is the market in which participants can buy, sell, exchange, and speculate on currencies. The forex market is made up of banks, commercial companies, central banks, investment management firms, hedge funds, and retail forex brokers and investors. The currency market is considered to be the largest financial market with over $5 trillion in daily transactions, which is more than the futures and equity markets combined.
One of the most unique features of the forex market is that it is comprised of a global network of financial centers that transact 24 hours a day, closing only on the weekends. As one major forex hub closes, another hub in a different part of the world remains open for business. This increases the liquidity available in currency markets, which adds to its appeal as the largest asset class available to investors.
In the futures market, futures contracts are bought and sold based upon a standard size and settlement date on public commodities markets, such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In the U.S., the National Futures Association regulates the futures market. Futures contracts have specific details, including the number of units being traded, delivery and settlement dates, and minimum price increments that cannot be customized. The exchange acts as a counterpart to the trader, providing clearance and settlement.