Smartphones put power to deal currencies into retail traders' hands

Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:09am EDT
 
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By Jemima Kelly

LONDON (Reuters) - Once the preserve of big international banks, smartphones are putting the power to deal currencies into the hands of a new cohort of traders, who can make a fortune -- or lose their shirt -- on the bus to work.

Retail foreign exchange trading has grown rapidly in recent years, but the image has been of a lone trader in front of a computer screen. Smartphones, owned by around half the world's adults, are changing that.

Mobile trading makes up about 60 percent of transactions, up from 10 percent four years ago, at London-based broker Trade 212, whose app has been downloaded over a million times. More than a fifth of clients trade only on smartphones or tablets.

"We are seeing a big number of clients who are not only mobile first, but mobile only," said Ivan Ashminov, Trade 212's co-founder.

Like others, Trade 212 offers demo accounts allowing users, largely male and mostly aged between 25 and 45, to practise with fake money. Many have no previous trading experience, Ashminov said.

Faheem Bismal, a 32-year-old father of two from Glasgow, sold his chain of convenience stores and restaurants two years ago to focus on property investment and trading currencies. He trades on broker FXCM's smartphone app on the school run and in bed before he turns out the light.

When he only traded on his desktop and could not check the market when he was out and about, he was less successful, Bismal said. But he warns that the ease and accessibility of trading apps can be dangerous.

"I see guys sitting on their phones just tapping away, being in and out of the market within seconds or minutes ... and losing all their money. If you're going to use the app you have to use it very sensibly."   Continued...

 
A sign hangs in front of U.S. flags outside of the New York Stock Exchange in New York September 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX1QLQN