Crypto trading is often thought of as similar to Forex, or foreign exchange trading. Forex, like crypto, involves trading currencies. However, there are a few key differences between the two. Forex trading is a large, well-established practice, while crypto trading is a relative newcomer to the scene. Forex often involves middlemen, brokers, and other institutions that take fees at every step of the trading process. The lack of a middleman is one of the biggest draws of crypto trading. And another major sticking point between the two is the liquidity available in Forex, versus the lack of liquidity in crypto – once you move away from the most common coins. And of course, there’s security.
Let’s take a look at the differences between the two in detail.
Swiss Francs vs. Bitcoin
Forex trading is large. The average daily turnover rate for Forex is in the trillions, with $5 trillion USD being traded in Forex in 2016. Compared to that, the most significant coin in crypto, Bitcoin, had only $1 billion USD turnover. BTC trading is not even as large as Forex trading in the Swiss franc, responsible for 5% of trading volume and $243 billion USD in daily turnover. However, unlike Forex, crypto trading can show returns of over 70%. Returns that high are almost unheard of in Forex trading.
Since Forex trading is so established, it is a regulated and mature market. This means that middlemen are everywhere in the Forex world. From brokers to exchanges, and other hidden fees and costs, Forex trading can get expensive, even before a trader has turned a dollar in profit. This means that Forex traders need to have pretty substantial capital also before they can trade. Institutional involvement is another significant aspect of Forex trading. Unlike crypto, Forex traders are competing with established banks, high-frequency traders, and other specialized firms. This institutional involvement can make it difficult to compete.
Stability and Volatility
Forex also lacks the same volatility present in crypto, making it hard to take advantages of small differences in exchange rates. However, this comes with the benefit of easily available liquidity. In other words, it’s pretty easy to trade any given currency for another, like trading US dollars for Nigerian naira. Orders like that tend to be filled nearly instantly. Because Forex has such high daily turnover, there are a lot of pairs that exist even if they’re otherwise minor currencies. Forex’s liquidity also ensures that even large trades won’t overly change the asking price of a given trade. For crypto trading, large trades often have a huge impact on price.
While crypto’s price can shift for big orders, especially when dealing with altcoins and lesser-known tokens, it has almost no barriers to entry. It’s incredibly easy to start trading crypto, and many online platforms allow users to jump in and begin trading practically instantly. The fees are usually much less than Forex fees, and the lack of a middleman means that there are no hidden costs. Crypto volatility also says that large, daily swings are possible and common, meaning that it’s a lot easier to buy in low in the morning, and sell high in the evening.
Security and Regulation
There is one more major difference between the two. That difference is security. Cryptocurrencies are a comparatively new technology, with all the risks associated with emerging tech. There are mountains of stories in the news about cryptocurrencies being hacked, stolen, or simply lost due to glitches. Due to the immutable nature of the blockchain, such actions are incredibly difficult to reverse, though not impossible.
There are also very little to no regulations surrounding crypto trading. This can leave traders open to scams and fraudulent behavior with no method of recourse. Having your funds hacked and stolen is not a pleasant experience – even less when there’s no real way to get that money back. Forex trades often carry some level of protection, and brokerage accounts are usually insured by the government in the event of theft or fraud.
Which Is Better?
Both Forex trading and crypto trading carry their own pros and cons and their own risks and rewards. Generally speaking, Forex trading is more stable, more protected, and highly regulated. Crypto trading carries the promise of much larger returns than Forex, at the cost of the stability of Forex. This means that smart and skilled traders with a large appetite for risk can realize much higher profits in crypto than they could in Forex trading, while not dealing with the same institutional involvement.
The two markets are similar, but only in the sense that they are both electronic trading forms of currency. The liquidity of Forex versus the volatility of crypto means that traders will need entirely different trading strategies for the two.