What is an ECN Broker in Forex?
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As many of you know, the forex market has one of the highest liquidity levels on the planet. But did you hear about the electronic trading system sweeping the world? Did you know what an ECN broker is in Forex?
Electronic Communication Networks, or ECNs, allow traders to compete with much bigger pools of financial institutions in the market.
As a result of the technological advancements within the financial industry, more forex brokers are switching to this much more accessible system – ECN. This enables ECN brokers to facilitate trades on a network used by several other forex traders.
The benefits of ECN brokers are transparent when it comes to traders who might not participate as much during market hours or want a bit more variety.
After all, who doesn’t want more affordable commission rates and tighter spreads? Read on to find more!
What is an ECN Broker?
Typically, an ECN broker matches buy and sell orders in the market for foreign exchange through an Electronic Communications Network (ECN).
ECNs are computerised systems that match buying and selling orders between institutions in the forex market (foreign exchange). ECNs match buy and sell orders.
A trading pair is composed of one currency versus another. For example, a trading pair such as EUR/USD shows the exchange rate between the euro and the U.S. dollar.
The forex market is the world’s largest financial market by dollar volume traded. Forex trading does not occur through exchanges, like stocks, but instead in over-the-counter markets where buyers and sellers are connected.
Characteristics of ECN Brokers
ECN brokers complete trades over the ECN on behalf of investors. Having an ECN broker also means lower trading costs and more trading time since ECN brokers operate in such a way.
In the ECN market, order flow does not move to the market makers. Instead, they electronically match the parties involved in a trade and then transfer the orders to securities exchange intermediaries.
Since ECN brokers match transactions among market participants, they are not permitted to trade against their client or clients. In addition, clients of ECN brokers pay a set commission for each transaction they make because ECN spreads are typically much smaller than those used by traditional brokers.
What is ECN Forex Trading?
In the future, foreign exchange markets will be run on the Electronic Communication Network (ECN). Through a FOREX ECN broker, an ECN acts as a bridge between more minor participants in the foreign exchange market and its liquidity providers.
Also known as alternative trading systems (ATS), ECNs are essentially computer networks, allowing traders to trade currencies and stocks outside of traditional exchanges.
Before the 1970s, all transactions were manually conducted, with minimal electronic trading available in the 1980s. There was a time when almost all electronic trading was carried out through Reuters’ Reuters Dealing, an advanced communications system.
Early electronic trading systems began being used in the early 90s to match buyers and sellers, soon becoming the standard for benchmarking currency prices. It is not that these Electronic Communications Networks didn’t exist earlier; they existed as early as the late 1960s but didn’t become widely used for currency trading until the late 1990s.
First Things First – Know Your Broker
Smaller traders are said to be attracted to the Forex market. With Forex, even the most negligible fluctuations in the price of a currency pair can yield gains. Foreign exchange trading does not occur at a regulated exchange, as with shares or assets.
An over-the-counter (OTC) market enables this kind of exchange between buyers and sellers from around the globe. Furthermore, a broker is your only option for accessing this market.
Your choice of broker can determine whether your Forex trading venture is a success or a failure since this market is decentralised. The forex market offers many brokers offering the same product and service, but you must understand the different kinds of brokers before you start trading.
The Forex trading market tends to be divided into two types of brokers: Market Makers and ECN Brokers. Brokers that are Market Makers, as their name implies, set bids and asks using their systems. Potential investors can utilise their platforms to open and close trading positions based on the prices they set.
ECN – the purest kind of broker
ECN brokers, unlike Market Makers, do not profit from spread differences but instead, charge a commission per position. In other words, their clients’ wins are their wins. Otherwise, they wouldn’t make any profit.
Brokers who use ECNs link clients to other market participants using their advanced electronic networks. With ECN brokers, who can consolidate bids and offers from different participants, bid/ask spreads can be tighter.
Besides big financial institutions and market traders, individual traders can also use ECN brokers. The exchange-traded networks allow clients to exchange bids and offers via a central platform.
Buying and selling trades are conducted anonymously in the ECN reports, one of the exchange advantages. Transactions on ECNs are similar to those on a live exchange since they offer the best bid/ask rates from the entire market.
The benefit of ECNs is that traders can compare prices from different liquidity providers, resulting in better prices and cheaper trading conditions. In addition, an ECN broker provides a trading environment that is transparent and efficient, further enhancing the appeal of trading online.
The ECN advantage – why you should trade with an ECN broker
The benefits of using an ECN broker are numerous; many traders are eager to use ECN brokers for several reasons. A range of benefits is available to ECN brokers, helping them gain an advantage over their counterparts. This article summarises some of those benefits.
Transparency, confidentiality, and anonymity
You are often an open book when you engage in typical Forex trading. However, privacy and confidentiality are paramount when you choose to use an ECN broker. This high rate of confidentiality and secrecy stems from the fact that brokers would merely act as middlemen in the market rather than being market makers.
An ECN agent and a dedicated account give traders unhindered market prices access. A good ECN broker makes it possible to trade on very low spreads since prices can vary depending on supply, demand, instability, and other market factors.
Instant Trade Execution
Forex dealers tend to find it difficult to compromise on this feature. Brokers who use ECN technology ensure accurate trade execution is always guaranteed.
With this strategy, the client does not need to trade directly with the broker but instead places orders through the broker’s network. As a result, anyone can benefit from improved execution through this alternative method.
Access to Customers and Liquidity
The ECN model allows any financial institution to trade in a pool of liquidity controlled and monitored by a viable and competent financial institution.
Another benefit of an ECN broker is that the information is transmitted transparently due to its connection. In addition, a single ECN agent has access to the same market data and can trade the same market markets; therefore, multiple liquidity providers ensure the transparency of actual market prices.
Trading consistency is one of the significant advantages of using an ECN broker and an associated Forex trading account. Since Forex trading is essentially an interactive process, there is no need to break between trades.
A good ECN broker will allow you to take advantage of the flow of activity during events and news, allowing you to trade freely during those times. Furthermore, traders can also profit from the fluctuation of the Forex market.
ECN vs. Standard Account
ECN accounts and Standard Accounts have a different fee structure, with ECN accounts charging commissions with either fixed or variable spreads. The ECN operates on a commission fee model, while spreads from 0.1 pip are split equally between the commission charge per lot and the interbank spread.
The downside of using an ECN Forex broker
Trading Forex with an ECN broker is not likely to have a lot of cons. There aren’t many, but those that are there deserve mention. Every ECN transaction is subject to a fixed commission fee. Their profit comes from this fee. The costs of using a market maker will likely be higher, but it will probably be considerably cheaper.
Market makers gain their revenue by increasing spreads and jacking up prices. Calculating stops and targets on an ECN broker platform can be pretty challenging. This is due to the constant movement of the cost and because of variable spreads. Additionally, slippage is possible. The price ticks are influenced by clients and factors simultaneously, especially during a session overlap.
Choosing the best ECN Forex broker
If you’re looking for a reliable trading environment and a multi-year trader, ECN brokers are worth considering since they don’t compete against their clients. Although, great caution should be exercised since many so-called ECN brokers aren’t ECNs at all. For you to see if a broker is offering ECN trading, you need to ask the following questions:
Do the spreads vary, or are they fixed? If they are trustworthy ECN brokers, the spreads will only fluctuate.
Does the company have a dealing desk? Whenever you see a dealing desk mentioned on the company’s website, you know that you’re not dealing with an ECN broker.
The difference between pips offered during news reports is more easily observed by opening a demo and a real account. But, of course, there will be no difference if you use an ECN broker.
Are there negative slippages? A trustworthy ECN broker will answer yes to that question.
You must consider several other brokerage options and some great ECN brokers you can consider.
To decide what kind of broker to work with, you should know what qualities you’d prefer. For example, fixed commission fees and tighter spreads will be associated with trading with an ECN broker. On the other hand, traders will take the opposite side of your trade.
Liquidity and trade execution are also important considerations. The ideal broker will guarantee seamless, instant order execution at a fair price.
MT4 ECN Forex Brokers
If you want to test the difference between an ECN broker and a market maker, it is best to open accounts with both but do so without risking any money. It is priceless to gain first-hand experience.
After choosing the broker of your choice and deciding whether you are prepared to risk your own hard-earned money, you must read the fine print carefully. Do not click the agreement button without first reading and understanding the terms and conditions. There are specific terms, services, and prices that each broker has.
Caution for Traders
The forex brokerage market is crowded with hundreds of companies. The majority of them are unregulated. Despite claiming to be ECN brokers, these unregulated brokers operate as dealing desk brokers.
You can only know if you are trading with a regulated broker if you make sure they are an ECN broker. Brokerage firms that are regulated will provide information about their regulated status on their websites.
ECN brokers, in general, don’t present traders with the problem of requotes, another way to ensure you’re dealing with a genuine ECN broker. But, again, this is because dealing desk brokers execute orders at a slower pace.
If traders place a buy or sell order at the current market price, they will see a request at a new market price rather than having their order filled instantly.
Traders who are delayed in order execution due to quota can lose a significant amount of money or even not execute a trade in a rapidly moving market.
The electronic communication network (ECN) allows forex brokers to directly connect buy and sell orders. With ECN brokers, orders usually are executed quicker, and prices are generally more favourable.
ECN brokers are not the only alternatives; dealing desk brokers have one major problem that traders face. Therefore, it’s imperative to choose a genuine ECN broker once you’ve found one. Comparing two or three brokers helps you choose one that meets all your needs, from trading conditions to regulation to spreads.
Jason Morgan is an experienced forex analyst and writer with a deep understanding of the financial markets. With over 13+ years of industry experience, he has honed his skills in analyzing and forecasting currency movements, providing valuable insights to traders and investors.
Forex Content Writer | Market Analyst