The following article was exclusively prepared for LeapRate by the Match-Trade Technologies team.
The Forex market has been dominated by MetaQuotes for over 10 years. They have created the most popular trading platform in the world – MetaTrader4 and its modernized version MetaTrader5. Although the Russian company is the undisputed leader among software providers for FX brokers, new solutions are emerging in the industry. What makes MetaTrader platforms first choice for both brokers and traders? Does their popularity mean that they are the best solution available on the market? We checked the key aspects of their success and what challenges they pose to users.
Ecosystem for brokers and traders
Each broker and trader, selecting a platform, check the possibilities of extending its functionalities based on the number of plugins and supporting applications available on the market. From a broker’s point of view, it is crucial to have multiple connectivity options with liquidity providers and plugins to manage for example execution, trade copying or bonus programs. Brokers also willingly use applications that support the development of traders’ networks or managed accounts. Examples of such applications can be social trading or PAMM systems that allow one trader sending trading signals to the accounts of other traders.
The strength of MetaQuotes is that they have managed to build a wide network of independent external technology providers who offer their applications and plugins designed specifically for these platforms. There are thousands of programmers who, using the MQL4 and MQL5 languages, create robots, indicators and other useful tools for retail clients. All these applications can be installed directly on the MT4 or MT5 platform. The problem occurs when the broker wants to change the older MT4 platform to the new MT5. MQL4 and MQL5 languages are not compatible with each other, which means that the robots used by their clients for automatic trading simply stop working on the newer version of the platform. The popularity of MT4, which has not been developed for almost 3 years, is still greater than MT5 precisely because of the number of ready-made robots available on the market. Over a year ago, to convince brokers to choose a new platform, MetaQuotes stopped selling the full MT4 license. This means that startup brokers who want to start using the MT4 platform need to use technology providers who offer MT4 White Labels, which puts significant constraints on the brokers.
Standalone version of the system
MetaTrader4 and MetaTrader5 are written in C++ programming language, which makes it very hard to decompile (steal the code). Thanks to this decision MetaQuotes was able to provide an enterprise version of its system, which means that each broker can install and manage it on his premise. It is an important feature which gives a lot of flexibility to the brokers who can install various plugins, set full admin configuration and keep all the clients’ data on their servers. MetaTrader4 is also a very simple system, which makes it easy to manage even for startup brokers. The situation is more complex with MetaTrader5, whose backend was redesigned. The architecture of the system is far more complicated and the countless number of options can be intimidating for some brokers. For this reason, brokers did not welcome MT5 as enthusiastically as MT4. People usually prefer simple solutions and even better performance and more options don’t compensate the configuration issues, lack of compatibility with the previous platform and bigger challenges for the IT departments. This is why brokers, who want to have a system with full license start to look for other platforms, which are delivered as hosted solutions. These platforms can provide extensive flexibility from one side and full assistance with maintenance and daily support from the other side.
Desktop, mobile and web platforms
The major advantage of MetaQuotes’ platforms is their popularity among traders around the world. Both of them offer a clean and intuitive interface which makes them easy to use. The major drawback is that the desktop platform is still the main version. Sure, it gives quite many options for installing plugins, but it also must be installed on clients’ computers. Nowadays, traders are used to having easily accessible solutions such as web or mobile. And even though there are web versions of both platforms, they’re not in demand. The design is very outdated and their functionalities and configuration options are very limited. Mobile versions of the MetaTrader platforms work quite smoothly, but they cannot be branded by the broker. Besides, each client who wants to log in to a mobile platform of his choice needs to browse the list of a few thousand brokers, meaning that he will see all the competition. It is quite inconvenient for both clients and brokers. There are few 3rd party providers on the market who built web traders and mobile traders for MT4 or MT5, but as practice shows, they are not much better than the original ones. Still, it is worth to check them if you would like to stand out of the crowd.
Challenges for brokers using MT4 and MT5
If broker chose to have MT4 White Label there are several aspects which can impact business setup he must be aware of. Many WL providers have their lists of instruments and they are rather reluctant to add individual symbols for the brokers. Even if they agree to do so, they face the limitations of the MT4 server. There are only 32 groups of securities in each MT4 server and each WL provider has to work within this limit when creating additional instruments (new instruments must be put in a separate security group). Moreover, instruments’ names must be different than the current ones, which in many cases result in having strange suffixes such as EURUSDxyz etc.
Also, markups can be placed on client’s groups but only per whole security group, not an individual symbol. It means that all instruments placed in a particular security group need to have the same markup in a given group. The other problem is the fact that if a broker wants to add a markup on a group level then the chart in the platform will not show the prices with markups, but only the raw ones. It is very confusing for the clients as they don’t know why they see different prices in market watch and different prices in the chart. Brokers who use MT4 WLs don’t have access to the admin panels, so they cannot configure any group parameters themselves unless WL provider gives such possibility through in-house developed apps.
As you can see there are quite many challenges in setting up your offer in MT4. Some of them were solved in MT5 platform, which gives a little bit more flexibility for the brokers, especially if you own a full server license. Unfortunately, the problems with showing markups on the chart or instrument suffixes remain unsolved, which can be a serious drawback for clients. Therefore it is always important to check if there are some alternatives, which could potentially suit you better. There are a few platform providers on the market who are worth trying before taking the final decision.