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Electronic trading: The rise of trading platforms

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With the internet several aspects of trading have changed and evolved, much to the traders delight. What was once a shouting match in the "pit" is now a sophisticated program on a screen, where the trader can choose to make his bets from the comfort of his armchair. With time, trading platforms have evolved, and nowadays they have an ever-increasing arsenal of technical studies and features, which are required to trade successfully.

If you need an edge...

Then you should trade with the latest available platform. Back in the day before online trading was wide-spread, the trading audience had to rely on their stockbroker and a phone. Trading was slow and expensive. Today, a serious trader needs lightning fast execution, and live streaming prices to even have a chance of closing successful trades and enter into the market at right times. You can't do this without a proper platfom, but thankfully the solution, which originates from Metaquotes, is at hand.

Today's trading platforms


Nowadays there is a plethora of platforms to choose from, as most brokers develop their own besides using the famous Metatrader 4 by Metaquotes (in case it is a Forex broker). Additionally they are usually available for mobile devices and can be browser based as well. One of the main aspects is convenience for the trader – this is not to be confused with user friendliness, especially for those platforms which feature option trading as well as these can be quite complex.

Some estimate that about 90% of the FX traders world-wide use the Meatrader 4 (MT4 in short) platform. The MT4 platform is simple to use, and a large part of its success can be attributed to the fact that Metaquotes made it very easy to implement so called "white-label" solutions, or even building entire FX brokerages from scratch. This in turn caused a massive increase in the publicity of FX trading, as new companies were formed with the sole purpose to get clients to trade FX on "their" platform. This trend still continues today. Besides this, MT4 is usually the go-to solution for automated trading. MXT Global offers MetaTrader for free to its traders so they can make the most of their forex trading.

Pictured above is the Metatrader 4 with the S&P500 index as a CFD (contract for difference) on the chart. One-click trading is enabled and it is very simple to trade from the chart. This platform also includes very solid technical analysis features with many built-in indicators and studies.

Expert Advisors

A major advantage of the MT4 platform is the capability to insert plugins or so called "Expert Advisors". These are various scripts, which will do the trading as per a pre-programmed strategy on behalf of the trader. The possibilities are virtually endless, as they can be set up to do whatever the trader wants, as long as it is possible to describe it mathematically, and the required data is available.

An "EA" can be set up to:

· Trade automatically or half-manually

· Automatically add stops when entering a trade

· Alert when given conditions are met, to find entry or exit points

· Manage open positions

· etc.

Interestingly, a good strategy can usually be defined mathematically, as no emotions should be involved.

Of course it is not even necessary to use any platform provided by a broker in case of an EA. As long as an API is available it is possible to develop an exclusive program, which can connect to the feed, and will allow you to trade or even trade automatically by itself. This obviously requires either programming knowledge or some upfront capital to pay a programmer who develops and does maintenance.

It is also important to note, that no matter how sophisticated and well programmed the EA, it is mandatory to check and adjust from time to time. Market conditions change, and when a major trend breaks then a poorly maintained EA can wreak havoc on a trader's account.

No matter what platform you use, or if you trade manually or with an EA: Control should be maintained at all times, and remember, there are no "Holy Grails" in trading. Good Luck!