The Binary Option Broker Industry is Showing Signs of Maturity

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

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    Best Choice for Beginners — Free Education + Free Demo Acc!
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  • Binomo
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The Binary Option Broker Industry is Showing Signs of Maturity

Currency trading has definitely grown of age, achieving a high degree of popularity across the global marketplace, but the binary options sector of the industry has been the hot topic of late, roaring to life just a few years back. This type of trading vehicle applies to a broader base of investors, allowing for transactions in both currencies, as well as in commodities, stocks, and a number of popular indices. Beginners are flocking to the genre because of its simplicity, built in risk management, and the potential to score huge gains in a short period of time.

In order to meet this demand, the binary option broker review community has been expanding dramatically, but it is finally beginning to show signs of maturity. It may still appear as the “Wild, Wild West”, but the space is getting crowded, and newcomers, as well as veteran firms, are having to respond to the competition in a variety of ways. The good news for traders is that risk/reward ratios are now approaching the same as can be had in traditional currency trading – a successful trader needs to book a 55% win rate on trades to break even in most cases.

Aggressive brokers are choosing the product differentiation method to attract their patrons, offering hot new one, two and five minute options. You no longer must wait hours for the results with these short-term options, but traders should be a bit wary. It is true that much of the appeal for binary options touches upon the gambler in all of us, but the shorter the term of the option, the closer the action begins to replicate pari-mutuel betting.

There is a reason that many of these brokers are located in tax-free zones that have large casino operations. The back office for binary options requires a similar approach to posting odds and weighing risks, thereby benefiting from the wealth of professional talent available in their chosen venue. Once a trader commits to a shorter term, he is actively choosing to rely on luck, rather than technical skills. The value of technical indicators traditionally decreases as timeframes are shortened. Market “noise” takes over, rendering many trading tools ineffective.

Another trend that is taking shape is for brokers to reflect “what’s hot and what’s not” on their respective trading boards. This process can also work to the broker’s benefit by guiding many traders to their shorter-term offerings, if they are indeed “hot”. Knowing where the “herd” is going is not necessarily the best indicator of where the greatest potential for gain may be found. The best advice in this case is to gather a few statistics on your own to verify if popularity equates to success. If you detect a pattern, then plan a strategy around what you find. As always, winning means biasing the odds in your favor.

Many binary option brokers are also shoring up their “best practices” due to the recent financial debacle in Cyprus, a financial center where many forex brokers have established operations centers. The two major banks on the island sustained massive losses on Greek bonds, necessitating the need for government authorities to seize all bank accounts. Brokers that deposited customer funds in offshore Tier 1 banks escaped the carnage, but others are desperately seeking additional capital sources.

Binary options by their vary nature require a different and proprietary operating platform. For this reason, your traditional forex broker may not be in a position to serve you, and you may have to choose a new broker from the multitude available.

The 8 Best Options Trading Platforms of 2020

From beginner solutions to expert portfolios

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Options trading is a somewhat high-risk area of the investment world where you can pay for the option to buy or sell a specific security at a set price on a future date. Based on fluctuations in market prices for those securities, the value of options rises and falls until their maturity date.

If you want to trade options, you’ll need an account with a brokerage that supports options. Each platform is unique and has its own pros and cons, so it is best to understand what you want in an options account and platform before you get started. Follow along to learn more about the best options trading platforms and which may be best suited for your options trading needs.

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    1st Place! Best Binary Broker 2020!
    Best Choice for Beginners — Free Education + Free Demo Acc!
    Sign-up and Get Big Bonus:

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    2nd place! Good choice!

Best Overall: TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade takes the top spot in this ranking thanks to a combination of reasonable pricing, excellent beginner resources, and a top-of-the-line trading platform that works well for experts and professional traders. No matter where you are in your options trading journey, TD Ameritrade has something for everyone.

Trades at TD Ameritrade cost $6.95 per trade plus $0.75 cents per contract. There is no account minimum. The site offers a current promotion where you get 60 days of commission-free equity, ETF, and options trades with a deposit of $3,000 or more. You get additional bonuses with larger opening deposits.

Beginners have a wide range of resources that are great for options and other investing and trading strategies. For expert traders, the Think or Swim platform gives you Wall Street quality at a Main Street price.

Best for No Commission: Robinhood

You can’t get cheaper than free. While some professional traders are not happy with how trades are handled and processed at Robinhood, it is an excellent platform for beginners to get started with less risk. With no trading fee, you can buy and sell options without risking anything more than your initial investment.

Robinhood is a web-first platform and it doesn’t offer much when it comes to education and research tools. But if you read a book on options and want to try your hand as a hobbyist, Robinhood can certainly handle your needs.

Robinhood also offers commission-free stock trades, ETFs, a limited number of cryptocurrencies, and a limited number of ADRs (American Depository Receipts — a type of stock listing in the US for a foreign company). Because it is mobile first, it offers great real-time notifications for investments and trades on the platform.

Best for Experts: TradeStation

TradeStation started as a software company for traders, and even though it has grown over time, it has held true to its initial trading principles. If you want professional data and high-speed trade execution on an expert-level platform, TradeStation is a great choice.

TradeStation charges $5 per trade plus $0.50 cents per contract. However, it also offers unbundled and per-contract pricing. Professional and high-volume traders may do better with the flat rate cost of $1 per contract instead of the base + per contract fee most brokerages charge.

While it doesn’t offer as much for beginner traders and new traders, you could host a family office or business portfolio on TradeStation with no problems. In fact, its tools are so good it sells many of them for a fee to professional investors with accounts at other brokers. With an active account at TradeStation, you get those tools for free. Just beware the minimum $2,000 balance or five trades per year to avoid a $95 annual account fee.

Best for New Traders: Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab delivers an all around great experience with excellent customer service. Once you open a new account, trades are $.95 each plus $0.65 cents per contract. First-time clients get 500 commission-free trades for two years when you deposit $100,000 or more in a new account.

Schwab offers above-average research and education offerings. It also gives you a very good platform for trading on desktop, web, and mobile. Even outside of options, it is one of the best overall brokerages for a wide range of investing and trading needs.

With the large library of educational and research content, you can enter the high-speed options trading world with your eyes wide open to the risks and opportunities. That said, the competitive costs and quality trading platforms make it a worthy consideration for even the most experienced traders. Accounts require a $1,000 minimum to access options trading.

Best for Low Costs and No Minimums: Ally Invest

Ally Invest is another low-cost brokerage best known for its cousin Ally Bank. Like the bank, Ally Invest offers an easy-to-understand and low-fee brokerage lineup. Trades are $4.95 each plus $0.65 cents per contract. There is no account minimum. With a current promotion, you can get up to $3,500 bonus cash depending on the size of your deposit.

You can start with a low investment to learn more about Ally without worrying about big minimum balances or fees. But even some more experienced traders will be happy with the low costs and a wide range of services geared toward option traders.

Highlights include a powerful trading platform and valuable charts, data, and analytics to help you build your options trading strategy. In the world of discount brokerages, you can’t always take the value of a broker from its trading fees. At Ally, that’s certainly the case.

Best Per-Trade Fees: Interactive Brokers

If you are an active trader who prefers making frequent, small trades, Interactive Brokers may be the best fit. There is no pre-trade fee and options commissions are $0.70 cents per contract. High volume traders can qualify for lower pricing down to $0.15 cents per contract with 100,000+ contracts per month. This brokerage also offers pricing that is attractive to active stock and ETF traders. Different pricing applies to non-US options.

This brokerage is not good for passive investors with few trades per year or a large balance. The account requires a hefty $100,000 minimum balance or $10 in commissions per month to avoid an activity fee. The activity fee is the difference between your trading commissions and $10 per month to total a $10 minimum monthly charge. The account charges a higher $20 minimum if you don’t keep at least $2,000 in equities in the account.

If you do have the appetite for at least $10 in trades per month and/or can satisfy that $100,000 minimum, Interactive Brokers has excellent trading platforms. These tools include a natural language bot that will place orders based on your instructions and a professional-grade desktop platform.

Best Tiered Pricing: Lightspeed

Lightspeed is a brokerage with a focus on active and experienced traders. Lightspeed charges $0 per trade and $0.60 cents per contract with a $1 minimum per trade. Tiered pricing starts at 500+ contracts per month. Depending on your volume, discounted rates range from $0.20 cents at 100,000+ contracts per month to $0.50 cents at 500 to 2,000 contracts per month.

Lightspeed offers professional-grade trading platforms. The options platform is known as Livevol X and offers integrated order execution, analysis, customized layouts, historical data analytics, and other useful features. Like competing platforms, you can manage most common account needs right in the desktop, web, or mobile-based platform.

This brokerage is not as beginner friendly as others on our list, so you should look elsewhere if you are brand-new to options trading. But if you are experienced and want expert tools, you can find everything to whet your appetite at Lightspeed. With low pricing for high-volume options traders, you might find it the right home for your options brokerage needs.

Trade Signal

What is a Trade Signal?

A trade signal is a trigger for action, either to buy or sell a security or other asset, generated by analysis. That analysis can be human generated using technical indicators, or it can be generated using mathematical algorithms based on market action, possibly in combination with other market factors such as economic indicators.

Basics of Trade Signals

Trade signals can use a variety of inputs from several disciplines. Typically, technical analysis is a major component, but fundamental analysis, quantitative analysis, and economics can also be inputs. They can include sentiment measures and even signals from other trade signal systems. The goal is to give investors and traders a mechanical method, devoid of emotion, to buy or sell a security or other asset.

Aside from simple buy and sell triggers, trade signals can be used to modify a portfolio by determining when it might be a good time to buy more of one particular sector, such as technology, and lighten up on another, such as consumer staples. Bond traders could have signals for adjusting the duration of their portfolios by selling one maturity and buying a different maturity. And finally, it can also help with asset class allocation such as shifting money among stocks, bonds, and gold.

There is no limit to how complex a trade signal can be. However, traders tend to keep things simple by using only a handful of inputs. For practical purposes, it is far easier to manage a simple signal generator and periodically test it to see what components need adjusting or replacing. Too many inputs would introduce complexity requiring more time than a trader has to offer. And since markets change over time, often with great speed, complex strategies could be rendered obsolete before testing is even finished.

Key Takeaways

  • Trading signals are triggers for action to buy or sell a security based on a pre-determined set of criteria. They can also be used to reconstitute a portfolio and shift sector allocations or take new positions.
  • Traders can create trading signals using a variety of criteria, from simple ones, such as earnings reports and volume surge, to more complex signals that are derived using existing signals.

Creating a Trade Signal

There are endless possibilities when coming up with a trade signal, but traders tend to just want to automate their thinking. An example might be, “for a stock with lower than a certain price-earnings ratio, buy when a certain technical formation breaks out to the upside, and prices are above a certain moving average while interest rates are falling.”

Here are several of the more common inputs. Traders can combine them as they wish to meet whatever criteria they use to select trades.

A Guide to Trading Binary Options in the U.S.

Binary options are financial options that come with one of two payoff options: a fixed amount or nothing at all. That’s why they’re called binary options—because there is no other settlement possible. The premise behind a binary option is a simple yes or no proposition: Will an underlying asset be above a certain price at a certain time?

Traders place trades based on whether they believe the answer is yes or no, making it one of the simplest financial assets to trade. This simplicity has resulted in broad appeal among traders and newcomers to the financial markets. As simple as it may seem, traders should fully understand how binary options work, what markets and time frames they can trade with binary options, advantages, and disadvantages of these products, and which companies are legally authorized to provide binary options to U.S. residents.

Binary options traded outside the U.S. are typically structured differently than binaries available on U.S. exchanges. When considering speculating or hedging, binary options are an alternative—but only if the trader fully understands the two potential outcomes of these exotic options.

Now that you know some of the basics, read on to find out more about binary options, how they operate, and how you can trade them in the United States.

U.S. Binary Options Explained

Binary options provide a way to trade markets with capped risk and capped profit potential, based on a yes or no proposition.

Let’s take the following question as an example: Will the price of gold be above $1,250 at 1:30 p.m. today?

If you believe it will be, you buy the binary option. If you think gold will be below $1,250 at 1:30 p.m., then you sell this binary option. The price of a binary option is always between $0 and $100, and just like other financial markets, there is a bid and ask price.

The above binary may be trading at $42.50 (bid) and $44.50 (offer) at 1 p.m. If you buy the binary option right then, you will pay $44.50. If you decide to sell right then, you’ll sell at $42.50.

Let’s assume you decide to buy at $44.50. If at 1:30 p.m. the price of gold is above $1,250, your option expires and it becomes worth $100. You make a profit of $100—$44.50 = $55.50 (minus fees). This is called being in the money. But if the price of gold is below $1,250 at 1:30 p.m., the option expires at $0. Therefore you lose the $44.50 invested. This called out of the money.

The bid and offer fluctuate until the option expires. You can close your position at any time before expiry to lock in a profit or a reduce a loss, compared to letting it expire out of the money.

A Zero-Sum Game

Eventually, every option settles at $100 or $0—$100 if the binary option proposition is true and $0 if it turns out to be false. Thus, each binary option has a total value potential of $100, and it is a zero-sum game—what you make, someone else loses, and what you lose, someone else makes.

Each trader must put up the capital for their side of the trade. In the examples above, you purchased an option at $44.50, and someone sold you that option. Your maximum risk is $44.50 if the option settles at $0, and so the trade costs you $44.50. The person who sold to you has a maximum risk of $55.50 if the option settles at $100—$100 – $44.50 = $55.50.

A trader may purchase multiple contracts if desired. Here’s another example:

  • NASDAQ US Tech 100 index > $3,784 (11 a.m.).

The current bid and offer are $74.00 and $80.00, respectively. If you think the index will be above $3,784 at 11 a.m., you buy the binary option at $80, or place a bid at a lower price and hope someone sells to you at that price. If you think the index will be below $3,784 at that time, you sell at $74.00, or place an offer above that price and hope someone buys it from you.

You decide to sell at $74.00, believing the index is going to fall below $3,784 (called the strike price) by 11 a.m. And if you really like the trade, you can sell (or buy) multiple contracts.

Figure 1 shows a trade to sell five contracts (size) at $74.00. The Nadex platform automatically calculates your maximum loss and gain when you create an order, called a ticket.

Nadex Trade Ticket with Max Profit and Max Loss (Figure 1)

Don’t Gamble On Binary Options

There are lots of ways to lose your money in this world but here’s one I hadn’t encountered before: binary option Web sites. They have become popular over the past few years with new ones appearing all the time: anyoption.com, bulloption.com, spotoption.com, binaryoption.com, etc. etc.

The sites appeal to the same type of people who play poker online. But they somehow have an aura of being more respectable because they represent themselves as offering a form of investing. Don’t kid yourself. These are gambling sites, pure and simple. It’s probably just a matter of time before regulators move in on them.

Until that happens, they seem to be doing great business. A Google search for binary option Web sites produced 870,000 hits with promotions like “earn up to 75 per cent every hour” and “81 per cent profit in one hour or less, trade all major markets”. You can buy these options, which are also known as all-or-nothing options, digital options, or Fixed Return Options (FROs), on stocks, commodities, indexes, foreign exchange, and other derivatives.

In fact, you can place a bet (which is what it really amounts to) on just about anything that is publicly traded, depending on which Web site you use (some offer a wider range of choices than others). Some sites provide free guides to binary option trading to get you started.

I was alerted to this phenomenon by a reader who sent me this email:

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“My dad has recently gotten involved with trading binary options online. The basic premise for the site he uses is at a specific time, say 1:25 p.m., you can put down perhaps $100 that XYZ stock will either increase or decrease in price within five minutesby 1:30 p.m. If you are wrong, you get $15 back. If you are right, you win about $70.

“I’ve proven to him that, mathematically, the site has an edge and you must be right 55% of the time in order for your bet to have a neutral expected value. I am also a professional online poker player by trade so I have an extensive understanding of probability, the online gambling markets, and how these sites work.

The problem is he feels he is at a great advantage, citing his ability to read a bunch of charts, follow news, etc. He is a smart man, a former lawyer, and has been following stocks for years, but I feel that he may be overestimating himself here. I’ve looked into online binary options trading a bit and it seems to me that the consensus is that very few people outside of professional traders can beat the trading sites consistently for good money. My dad is up $2,500 or so betting $100 and $50. The best I could do is to warn him about statistical variance affecting his perceived ability and that short-term volatility along with the inherent disadvantage will make consistent winning incredibly hard.

“I’m looking for a way to definitively convince him to stop and that his edge isn’t as great as it seems. I tried talking to him multiple times about the subject but I’m not as knowledgeable about the field and ultimately that becomes my shortcoming when trying to convince him why he shouldn’t continue to be involved with this. Any help would certainly be appreciated.”

I found this correspondence especially fascinating because the writer is a professional online poker player — a gambler by trade. Yet here he is trying to convince his dad that online gambling is a bad thing. I agree, it is. But it’s understandable if the father is skeptical about advice from a son who does the same sort of thing, albeit in a different form.

But that’s for them to sort out. What intrigued me was to discover that binary option trading has become a kind of pseudo investing sub-culture. I went to the site our reader says his dad uses and did some research. It describes binary options as “an exciting new type of investment” — note the use of the word “investment”.

“When a binary option is purchased on our platform, a contract is created that gives the buyer (known here as the investor) the right to buy an underlying asset at a fixed price, within a specified time frame with us, the seller,” the Web site explains. The option must be held until maturity (even if that is five minutes away); unlike regular options it cannot be sold before then.

These sites promote themselves as offering controlled risk (you can’t lose more than a specified amount), low cost, big gains if you guess right, and ease of use — you can trade from home whenever markets are open and set up an account with a credit card.

So what arguments would I use to convince dad to quit? For starters, this sort of thing can quickly become addictive, especially to market junkies. Although the amounts bet may be small, the total can quickly add up if many trades are done in a day. It wouldn’t take long for things to get out of hand.

Second, no one, no matter how knowledgeable, can consistently predict what a stock or commodity will do within a short time frame. Will Apple (AAPL) shares go up or down in the next 10 minutes? Unless there has just been some major announcement from the company, there is no way to even guess at that.

Third, the house definitely has an edge. This particular Web site pays $71 for each successful $100 “trade.” If you lose, you get back $15. Let’s say you make 1,000 “trades” and win 545 of them. Your profit is $38,695. But your 455 losses will cost you $38,675. In other words, you must win 54.5% of the time just to break even.

Finally, these Web sites are unregulated. No securities commission is protecting people’s interests. This is a financial Wild West.

If people want to gamble, that’s their choice. But let’s not confuse that with investing. Binary options are a crapshoot, pure and simple.

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    1st Place! Best Binary Broker 2020!
    Best Choice for Beginners — Free Education + Free Demo Acc!
    Sign-up and Get Big Bonus:

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    2nd place! Good choice!

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