What is forex?
Quite simply, it’s the global financial market that allows one to trade currencies.
If you think one currency will be stronger versus the other, and you end up correct, then you can make a profit.
Once upon a time, before a global pandemic happened, people could actually get on airplanes and travel internationally.
If you’ve ever traveled to another country, you usually had to find a currency exchange booth at the airport, and then exchange the money you have in your wallet into the currency of the country you are visiting.
You go up to the counter and notice a screen displaying different exchange rates for different currencies.
An exchange rate is the relative price of two currencies from two different countries.
You find “Japanese yen” and think to yourself, “WOW! My one dollar is worth 100 yen?! And I have ten dollars! I’m going to be rich!!!”
When you do this, you’ve essentially participated in the forex market!
You’ve exchanged one currency for another.
Or in forex trading terms, assuming you’re an American visiting Japan, you’ve sold dollars and bought yen.
Before you fly back home, you stop by the currency exchange booth to exchange the yen that you miraculously have remaining (Tokyo is expensive!) and notice the exchange rates have changed.
It’s these changes in the exchange rates that allow you to make money in the foreign exchange market.
What is forex trading?
Forex, or foreign exchange, can be explained as a network of buyers and sellers, who transfer currency between each other at an agreed price. It is the means by which individuals, companies and central banks convert one currency into another.
Currency traders (also known as currency speculators) buy currencies hoping that they will be able to sell them at a higher price in the future.
Compared to the “measly” $22.4 billion per day volume of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the foreign exchange market looks absolutely ginormous with its $6.6 TRILLION a day trade volume.
While a lot of foreign exchange is done for practical purposes, the vast majority of currency conversion is undertaken with the aim of earning a profit. The amount of currency converted every day can make price movements of some currencies extremely volatile. It is this volatility that can make forex so attractive to traders: bringing about a greater chance of high profits, while also increasing the risk.
How do currency markets work?
Unlike shares or commodities, forex trading does not take place on exchanges but directly between two parties, in an over-the-counter (OTC) market. The forex market is run by a global network of banks, spread across four major forex trading centres in different time zones: London, New York, Sydney and Tokyo. Because there is no central location, you can trade forex 24 hours a day.
There are three different types of forex market:
Spot forex market: the physical exchange of a currency pair, which takes place at the exact point the trade is settled – ie ‘on the spot’ – or within a short period of time
Forward forex market: a contract is agreed to buy or sell a set amount of a currency at a specified price, to be settled at a set date in the future or within a range of future dates
Future forex market: a contract is agreed to buy or sell a set amount of a given currency at a set price and date in the future. Unlike forwards, a futures contract is legally binding
Most traders speculating on forex prices will not plan to take delivery of the currency itself; instead they make exchange rate predictions to take advantage of price movements in the market.