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51+ Reliable Forex Trading Statistics (2021)

Published by Bowen Khong

Getting reliable Forex trading statistics is no easy task.

Besides curating, we spent a good amount of time determining its sources, and the credibility and authority of the sources to ensure the figure are accurately represented and reliable.

So our goal here isn’t to get as many ‘stats’ as we possibly can – which is a rather easy task, but to only include the ones that people can base on when doing research or writing a well-researched piece.

We have also segmented them into meaningful sections in the form of answering common queries, which you can find it at the table of content below.

Key takeaways

  1. The first online trade was executed in 1994 by K. Aufhauser & Co., a subsidiary of TD Ameritrade. 
  2. The Forex trading market is estimated to be worth $6.6 trillion trading volume per day (or $2,409 trillion / year), according to BIS. 
  3. The Forex market is the largest market in the whole financial market, which represents 26x of the equity market, 25x of the bond market, and 115x of USD GDP.
  4. 49% ($1,987,441 million) of all Forex trades were transacted on FX Swaps, and only 30% ($3,202,667 million) were transacted on the spot market
  5. The US dollar is the most traded currency in the world representing 88% of one side currency trades. 
  6. The United Kingdom is the largest foreign exchange country by turnover at $3,576 billion (43.1%), followed by the United States at $1,370 billion (16.5%), and Singapore at $633 billion (7.6%). 
  7. The United States has the largest Forex interest by monthly search volume for the term “forex trading” at 130,000 monthly searches.
  8. Nigeria is the fastest growing Forex market in Africa by Google search volume with 19,000 monthly searches, 150% growth from 2017. Compared to South Africa which saw a 52% drop over the same period.
  9. IC Market is the largest Forex platform by average volume of daily transactions at $18.9 billion. 
  10. MetaTrader 4 is the most popular trading mobile App by number of ratings received at 710,023. Followed by MetaTrader 5 at 249,400
  11. OctaFX is the most popular forex trading mobile App. by number of ratings received at 56,775
  12. eToro is the most popular social trading mobile App. by number of ratings received at 91,053. 
  13. MetaTrader 4 accounted for 45% of the trading platform market share, and powered 1,321 online retail trading brokerages. 
  14. Around 92% of trading in the Forex market was performed by trading algorithms instead of humans.
  15. During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Both eToro and Plus 500, 2 of the world’s largest CFD trading providers, saw a near 150% year-on-year gain, from 245 million to 605 million (eToro) and from 354.5 million to $872.5 million (Plus 500). CM trading also reported a 477% increase in volume in Africa
  16. The average annual salary across the four largest career portals is $94,016.

Forex Market Timeline: How Was Modern Online Forex Trading Started?

  • 1985: Trade*Plus started offering one of the first retail trading platforms on America Online and CompuServe. 
  • 1995: TD Ameritrade acquired K. Aufhauser & Co., which was credited with executing the first online trade in 1994. 
  • 2000: MetaQuotes’ first product FX Charts was released – as an easy-to-use, reliable and functional trading platform for the Forex market. 
  • 2002: MetaTrader 3 released for desktop computers.
  • 2003: MetaQuotes launched the first mobile forex trading platform with MetaTrader 3 CE and MetaTrader for Palm, which gained huge popularity. 
  • 2005: MetaQuotes released MetaTrader 4 (MT4) trading platform.  
  • Oct. 2005: MQL4 IDE, the first open source automated trading development application launched. 
  • 2008: 08 financial crisis. 
  • 2010: MetaTrader 5 was released. 
  • 2015: Foreign-Exchange Brokers – Alpari and Excel Markets – going bankrupt in the Swiss Franc’s surge. 
  • 2018: US regulators have punished Forex trading platform, FXCM for using algorithms to trade against its own clients
  • 2020: USGFX, Union Standard International Group Pty Ltd Enters into Voluntary Administration.

[Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ,8]

How Big Is The Forex Market? 

Ask anyone who has a certain degree of understanding of the financial market, and they will tell you straight out that the Forex market is the biggest among them all.

  • The Forex trading market is estimated to be worth $6.6 trillion trading volume per day, according to BIS. 
  • The average daily Forex trading value has seen a 98% increase over the past 12 years, from 2007 to 2019. 
  • The Forex market is the biggest market in the financial market. With $2,409 trillion estimated annual trading value, the forex market is:
    • 26 times bigger than global equity market by market capitalization 
    • 25 times bigger than global bond market by market capitalization 
    • 115 times bigger than the size of US GDP
  • 30% or $3,202,667 million of all Forex trading was traded on Spot (cash market).
    • FX Swaps is the largest Forex instrument representing 49% or $1,987,441 million.
    • FX options represent only 5%.
instruments$ in MillionsPercentage
FX Swaps3,202,66749%
Spot1,987,44130%
Outright forwards999,31815%
Options297,5225%
Currency swaps108,4862%
Other instruments370%
Total instruments6,595,471100%

[Source: 1]

What Are The Most Traded Currencies In The World? 

The forex market comprises 170 different currencies, but what currencies, currency pairs and countries have the most market share? Our research revealed:

  • The US dollar is the most traded currency in the world representing 88% of one side trades. 
  • The most traded currency pair is USD/EUR representing 24% of all currency pairs at $1,584 billion.
  • Seven currency pairs make up 68% of the forex markets trading volume.
RankCurrency PairAmount in Billion US DollarsPercentage
1USD/EUR1,58424
2USD/JPY87113.2
3USD/GBP6309.6
4USD/AUD3585.4
5USD/CAD2874.4
6USD/CNY2694.1
7USD/CHF2283.5
8USD/HKD2193.3
9USD / KRW1251.9
10USD / INR1101.7
  • The United Kingdom is the largest foreign exchange country by turnover at $3,576 billion (43.1%), followed by the United States at $1,370 billion (16.5%), and Singapore at $633 billion (7.6%). 

(ignore map)

RankCountryAmount in Billion US DollarsPercentage
1United Kingdom3,57643.1
2United States1,37016.5
3Singapore6337.6
4Hong Kong SAR6327.6
5Japan3764.5
6Switzerland2763.3
7France552
8China1361.6
9Germany1241.5
10Australia1191.4

[Source: 1, 2]

With Cryptocurrency hitting massive headlines, you might wonder if forex trading is dead. The quick answer is a straight no. In fact, the interest on Forex trading has been rising in recent years. 

  • The United States has the largest Forex interest by monthly search volume for the term “forex trading” at 130,000 monthly searches.
  • Except for South Africa, the largest four countries by search volume for the term “forex trading” have seen more than 120% growth from 2017 to 2020. 
Countries2021-2017 (diff %)Mar 2021Mar 2020Mar 2019Mar 2018Mar 2017
USA124%130000127000670005600058000
United Kingdom153%3800049000300002600015000
India127%3400026000170001700015000
South Africa-52%2500033000310003400052000
Nigeria150%19000220001300073007600

(In thousands)

[Source: 1]

What Are The Largest Forex Brokers By Daily Trading Volume?

Over here, we looked at some of the world’s largest retail trading platforms focusing on Forex and CFD.  

  • The largest retail forex trading platform in the world is IC Market with $18.9 billion average volume of daily transactions.
  • The largest Forex trading platform in USA is Forex.com
    • Forex.com: 15.5 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • Oanda: 10.7 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • Interactive Brokers: 3.9 average volume of daily transactions
  • The largest Forex trading platform in Australia is IC Market
    • IC Markets: 18.9 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • Pepperstone: 6.7 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • AXI Trader: 5.3 billion average volume of daily transactions
  • The largest Forex trading platform in Europe is XM Group. 
    • XM Group: 13.4 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • Saxo Bank: 12.3 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • AvaTrade: 7.8 billion average volume of daily transactions
  • The largest Forex trading platform based outside of the US, AU, and EU jurisdiction is  Hot Forex.
    • Hot Forex: 11.5 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • Vantage FX: 9.7 billion average volume of daily transactions
    • IFC Markets: 9.1 billion average volume of daily transactions

[Source: 1]

What Forex Trading Mobile Apps Have The Most Downloads and Highest Ratings?

We looked at Google App Store and Apple Store, and found out that: 

  • MetaTrader 4 is the most popular trading mobile App by number of ratings received at 710,023. Followed by MetaTrader 5 at 249,400.
  • OctaFX is the most popular forex trading App. by number of ratings received at 56,775.
  • eToro is the most popular social trading App. by number of ratings received at 91,053. 

This section tells you the market share of some of the most popular trading software and its trends. 

MetaTrader 4

  • MetaTrader 4 powered 1,231 online retail trading brokerages. 
  • MetaTrader 4 accounted for 45% of the trading platform market share. 
  • IC Markets MT4 trading volume accounted for $1.567 billion in 2018. 
  • 54% of all retail CFDs were traded using MetaQuotes Software (MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5). 
  • Google Trends show MetaTrader 4 has been on the rise since 2004. 
  • Metatrader 4 has been searched over 250,000 times per month on Google (Ahrefs).
    • United States: 61,000 monthly search volume (24%)
    • United Kingdom: 16,000 monthly search volume (6%)
    • South Africa: 15,000 monthly search volume (6%)
    • Indonesia: 14,000 monthly search volume (5%)
    • Brazil: 12,000 monthly search volume (4%)

Metatrader 5

  • MetaTrader 5 users (companies) exceeded MetaTrader 4 in June 2021.
  • MetaTrader 5 code has already reached 7 million lines, while the previous version had only 2 million.
  • MetaTrade 5 has been searched over 101,000 times per month on Google (Ahrefs)
    • Brazil: 20,000 monthly search volume (19%)
    • United States: 13,000 monthly search volume (12%)
    • Turkey: 8,400 monthly search volume (8%)
    • South Africa: 7,100monthly search volume (7%)
    • Indonesia: 5,500 monthly search volume 

Ninja Trader

  • NinjaTrader supports 100,000 active users as of 2020. 
  • NinjaTrader has been searched over 48,000 times per month on Google (Ahrefs)
    • United States: 21K | 43%
    • Colombia: 4.7K | 9%
    • Brazil: 2.6K | 5%
    • Spain: 2.1K | 4%
    • United Kingdom: 1.5K | 3%

[Source: 1, 2, 3, 4]

How Much of The FX Trades Are Done Though Trading Algorithms? 

Algo trading is getting popular since the rise of cloud computing and better hardware technologies. 

  • Around 92% of trading in the Forex market was performed by trading algorithms instead of humans.
  • 40% of financial institutions used algorithms in their trading. 
  • 46% of Buy‐Side algorithm users acquired their algorithms from the Sell‐Side for a fee, and 21% acquired algorithms for no fee.
  • Study shows once market participants daily turnover exceeds $100 million, the chance of using algorithms increases.
  • 100% of non‐bank liquidity provider respondents used in‐house algorithms for price making.
  • FX execution algorithms (EAs) accounted for 10–20% of global FX spot trading, or approximately USD 200–400 billion in turnover daily.

Ken Monahan, author of Digitization Delayed: Why Algos Aren’t More Popular in FX

  • In the U.S. and Europe, only 37% of FX market participants use algorithmic trading, and those that do use algo trades for only 22% of their overall volume.
  • Compared that with equities where almost half of all trading volume (46%) is now executed through either direct market access (DMA,) smart order routing or algorithmic trades.

[Source: 1, 2, 4, 5]

Has The Covid-19 Pandemic Slowed Forex Trading?

The Covid-19 pandemic might have slowed the global economy, leaving millions out of jobs, but that doesn’t mean people are skipping trading. For it is during this tough financial period, we saw a boom in retail trading volume as people were looking for Forex trading as a means to make up for income loss.  

eToro (2020 – 2019)

  • Revenue increased by 147% year-on-year to $605M from $245M.
  • 5 million new users gained in 2020. 
  • Number of average monthly registrations increased by 129% year-on-year to 27M from 8M.
  • Number of trades executed increased by 238% year-on-year to 1.5 trillion from 0.3 trillion.

Plus 500 (2020 – 2019)

  • Revenue increased by 146% year-on-year to 872.5m from $354.5m.
  • Number of active customers increased by 117% year-on-year to 434,296 from 199,720.
  • Number of new customers increased by 223% year-on-year to 294,728 from 91,388.

Africa

  • CM Trading reports that forex trading in Africa has increased by around 477% since February this year [Nov. 2020].

[Source: 1, 2, 3]

How Much Do Forex Traders Actually Make? 

One of the greatest mysteries in Forex trading is knowing how much do traders actually make, rather than what gurus say they are making. We looked into a couple credible sources, and curated the data. Our research revealed that:

  • 10-20% of all FX traders achieved a profit based on eToro Open Book analysis.
    • 1 / 3 of the traders achieved a near total loss (90% or more lost). 
    • On average, 56.5% of the trades were completed with a profit. 
  • A dedicated forex day trader with a decent strategy can make between 5% and 15% a month thanks to leverage.
  • A study by PhD researcher John Forman revealed that 99.6% of retail forex traders are unable to achieve more than four back-to-back profitable quarters. 
  • The average annual salary across the four largest career portals is $94,016.

[Source: 1, 2, 3]

Bowen Khong
Bowen Khong
Bowen specialises in global online brokerage research. Head of research and founder of ForexToStocks.
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