Binary option trading lets you generate potentially significant profits from the comfort of your home. The way it works is quite simple. You sign up with a binary options broker (for a list of our recommended binary options brokers, see below) and deposit money. Then, you place trades. If you win a trade, you make around 80% of what you invested. If you lose a trade, you lose your investment amount.
Unlike Forex, in binary options you can never lose more than your investment. Today many signal services are available to allow even complete beginners to trade profitably.
- Scam binary brokers operate in various ways, such as stealing money, denying withdrawals and manipulating trading data to cause losses.
- Fraudulent signal services simply provide bad signals.
If you’re reading this page, you are lucky: I will provide an outline of the safest way to go about binary options trading. So make sure to read the below guide well before you sign up with any broker or service.
Guidelines for Dealing with Binary Options Brokers
Despite a clear direction towards regulation and overall fairness, the binary options trading industry is still a bit of a Wild West. There are scores of unregulated binary options brokers and some of the regulated ones push aggressive sales tactics and bonus deals, designed to make it impossible for traders to cash out. In order to understand why these things happen, you need to understand what sort of business models there are from the brokers’ perspective and what these different business models mean for you, the trader.
Brokers regulated by CySEC, by various European authorities as well as regulatory bodies based on various Caribbean islands, work the single market-maker approach. What this means is that the broker is the only market maker in the equation: the entity making the pricing on all the tradable underlying assets. Essentially, the trader is going up against “the house,” which controls all the variables of the game. The fundamental conflict of interest is obvious here. Furthermore, the unhealthy nature of this setup is also evident in the fact that when they win, traders win money from the broker. When they lose, they lose money to the broker. Brokers simply cannot afford to have too many successful traders, because that will drive them to bankruptcy.
Although currently more or less accepted, this business model isn’t one embraced by the ESMA, the authority over all national EU-based regulators. There are several EU member states the financial authorities of which have embarked on a virtual crusade against what’s known in the industry as the “CySEC” model. For now, the ESMA has come out swinging against the bonus-based promotional model, which is most often quite openly abusive. Not only do the terms associated with the bonuses encourage traders to trade and to deposit more, they may also make it downright impossible for them to earn out the bonuses and thus to cash out.
The mathematically more viable binary option business model is the US one, which is exchange-based. US binary option trading works just like an exchange. Traders trade against each other, which means that they’re the ones who do the pricing, through the time-honored dynamic of supply and demand. US binary options trading is a zero-sum game: whenever a trader wins something, he wins it from another trader. The broker brings traders together and it makes its money off commissions and fees.
In this model, there’s no conflict of interest, and there’s no possibility of abuse pricing-wise. It is indeed a sustainable model, the only one that can ever hope to gain the stamp of approval of US regulatory authorities.
US binary option trading, represented by operators like Nadex and CX (Cantor Exchange), is a range-bound business too. The value of options is always between $0 and $100. They start out somewhere between these two values, set by supply and demand, which is in turn shaped by the odds regarding the possible outcome of the option. As the expiry of the option draws near, its value varies, only to end up worth either $0 (out of the money) or $100 (in the money).
Now that you know everything that truly matters about binary option trading, let’s take a look at what else you should pay attention to, when looking for a broker.
Signing up with a regulated broker is always the way to go. While we would love to preach a zero-tolerance policy in this respect, sometimes the best path to success may indeed lead through an unlicensed broker. If you stick to the following guidelines though, you should be OK anyway.
Binary Options Managed Accounts
Managed Accounts are among the nastiest practices the binary option industry currently fosters. One should always steer well clear of them, because by making use of the services of an account manager, one will give up the last semblance of control he/she has over the trading process. One should never lose sight of the fact that the account manager works for the broker, is paid by the broker, and therefore has the best interest of the broker as his/her top priority. As described above, those interests are radically opposed to the traders’. Account managers won’t shy away from various pressure-techniques to get traders to deposit more money and to trade more. In the end though, managed accounts will end up emptied.
The best way to handle trading is to find a good binary options signal service or to just trade on your own. Just tell the pushy account manager that you do not need his/her services and that you want to trade on your own, with the money you’ve already deposited.
Sometimes, account managers will push their traders to take up loans and to borrow money from their friends. Never do that. Always only trade with money you can actually afford to lose. Set aside a sum for this purpose and deposit that. Never let anyone strong-arm you into pushing any more in the middle. When starting out, you’re best off sticking with one or two brokers and the minimum required deposits. In order to make do with these minimums, you’ll need to exercise proper capital management. In this respect, never risking more than 5-10% of your balance, is the way to go.
There are very few legitimate auto traders out there. Even those are semi-automated and are only appropriate for experienced traders, never for newbies. Make sure you properly research any entity offering such services. The vast majority of auto traders out there are nothing but scammers, who peddle software built on a couple of technical indicators and a losing money-management module. Moreover, the marketing tactics used by such shady operators include various wild promises and obviously abusive tactics, punctuated by amateurish acting. Don’t fall for such offers.
You should never accept bonuses. As specified above, almost every one of the bonus deals offered by regulated and unregulated binary options brokers is abusive, aiming to lock up one’s funds and to make it impossible to cash out. Good brokers will always allow their traders to cancel their bonuses at a whim. Better yet: they won’t offer any bonus deals at all, in compliance with the ESMA’s latest demands in this regard.
The Bottom Line
Keep things as simple as possible, regulated if possible and do not allow anyone to “assist” you. If you need help, look to proven 3rd party signal providers. Do not fall for any deals that look too good to be true.
So which broker should you go with?
If you’re looking also for a good signal service, then we’d recommend picking one of the brokers recommended by Michael Freeman. This will allow you to gain free access to his signals group.
If you already have a signal service you’re happy with, check which brokers are currently approved by the Binary Options Watchdog.