What is Forex?

The Foreign Exchange Market
The world’s largest market

Education

What is Forex?

Trading Foreign Exchange:

“The FX market is by far the world’s largest market. Why? Because exchanging one currency for another is vital for the world’s business and trading”.

The foreign exchange market allows two currencies to be exchanged, at an exchange rate which is floating or fixed. This allows businesses from around the world to complete transactions across currencies. Currencies need to be exchanged to import produce from different countries, for example: a wine merchant in England exchanges their pound sterling (GBP) for euros (EUR) in order to purchase wine from France. Exchanging currencies is the basis for all international trades. Unlike the stock market, the forex market is decentralized – this means that there is no central trading area. Most foreign exchange transactions are executed over-the-counter (OTC) by banks, on behalf of their clients.

Where did it start?

It all began with the gold standard monetary system back in 1875. Before our current system was born, gold and silver were exchanged for goods and services. The problem was that gold’s value changed depending on the supply – if a new source was discovered, gold would become less valuable. Eventually, different countries began to peg an amount of their currency to an ounce of gold. The difference between these amounts was an exchange rate. After World War One this system broke down, and several years later currencies were no longer pegged to gold. FX trading used to be completed exclusively through banks and forex brokers. However, as technology has developed, FX trading has become far more accessible. Individual traders can now access the FX market from their smartphones, and complete trades on the go. Today, the forex market is open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. The first markets open on Monday morning in Wellington, New Zealand, and the last close at 5pm (ET) on Friday in New York.