At its core, any comparison between the forex market and the cryptocurrency market boils down to old and new ways of thinking about money. It may seem difficult to correlate currencies backed by countries with those by coding. But people are creating real buying power in their day-to-day lives learning both types.
If you’ve ever had forex vs. crypto thoughts rolling around in your head, read on for some context that could help inform your decision.
Crypto vs Forex Similarities
Before we move into the differences between crypto and forex, let’s see why these markets may not be so different after all.
Forex and Crypto Play Together
The most important similarity between crypto and forex is that they now hold value relative to each other. You may not believe in Bitcoin or Ripple as a legitimate currency, but forex exchanges do. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) also believes in crypto enough to offer options contracts on them.
Although the CBOE only offered crypto futures contracts from December 2017 until March 2019, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) currently offers bitcoin futures. You can also trade contracts-for-differences (CFDs) of reputable cryptocurrencies on platforms like eToro just like CFDs of forex currency pairs.
If you’ve read anything about crypto, you’ve heard about the concept of “decentralization.” All that means is there is no central regulation on the market. Here’s a little secret: The forex market is also decentralized. No, FOREX.com is not a central regulatory body for forex, just a well-named exchange! (Click here for a FOREX.com Review to learn more about it.)
On its own, decentralization does not mean that a market is less stable. It does mean you need to watch your back when investing, but that should go without saying.
Similar Market Physics
The same basic money physics that regulates movement in forex also regulates crypto. The notion of basic supply and demand is in effect: If there are more buyers than sellers for a cryptocoin, the price of that coin generally goes up. More sellers than buyers means a crypto bear market, just like in forex.
Efficient market absorption of news means that both forex and crypto respond instantly to market shocks. For example, if a BTC whale converts $30 million BTC into Japanese yen, it affects the crypto market just as talk of war in the White House would change the value of certain U.S.-based forex currency pairs.
Crypto vs Forex Differences
Keep your eyes open for these differences.
The forex market is the No. 1 market in the world for trading volume by a large margin. The Bank for International Settlements reported an average of $6.6 trillion daily trading value in the 2019 forex market, a 29.4% increase since its last report in April 2016. As of May 2020, the cumulative market cap for the crypto market totaled around $256 billion.
The larger size of the forex market also gives it different levels of volatility and liquidity (concepts that will be discussed below). Forex beginners can start out trading currency pairs from stable countries with more protection from large losses before moving on to more speculative trades.
Volatility and Liquidity
Crypto is a smaller market than forex, so smaller amounts of money can move crypto more substantially than forex. If another $256 billion entered the crypto market, we could ideally expect the prices of all crypto to double. That same $256 billion represents a change of about 4% in the forex market. As a result, the crypto market is much more volatile than the forex market.
A higher volatility means more risk for investors — a greater chance of an exponential upside as well as huge, financially crippling losses. Higher volatility also means less liquidity (ease of trading), because more people are naturally attracted to a smooth marketplace. Low volatility and high liquidity means the forex market can better absorb economic shocks. This benefits the average person — both investor and noninvestor — with relatively stable currencies even in bad economic times.
Cryptocurrency first took off primarily because of its ability to foster anonymous transactions. Government intervention has limited the ability of top coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum to hide identities, but smaller coins like Monero, Zcash and Verge retain this characteristic.
Forex transactions, on the other hand, are regulated by a tight web of forex brokers and financial professionals known as the interbank market. Since 2014, the interbank market has incorporated a “know your customer” (KYC) standard that requires traders to provide personal information to access an exchange. Perhaps spurred on by crypto’s anonymous structure, companies like EagleFX that subvert or ignore KYC rules are popping up for forex traders.
Pros and Cons of Crypto Trading
Before making a decision to invest in this quickly changing environment, consider some of the following pros and cons.
High growth potential
Low barriers to entry
Increasing acceptance into mainstream society
|No government insurance for accounts
Less secure marketplace
Probability of total currency default
Lower levels of liquidity
Errors in underlying technology can drastically affect markets
Pros and Cons of Forex Trading
Although on the surface forex is safer than crypto, you still need to know what you’re getting into.
Measure of centralized protection against fraud and theft
Less potential for massive losses
KYC standards protect traders and brokers from fraud
|Less potential for huge, short-term gains
Gains easily tracked and taxed
Higher barriers to entry
High fees and middleman costs depending on your chosen broker
Unexpected political events can shock the market and cause major losses
Best Brokers for Forex Trading
The broker you use for trading forex can make a huge difference in your success. Here are some of the best forex platforms to consider.
Spreads start as low as $1 But vary based on trading volume
1 Minute Review
FOREX.com is a one-stop shop for forex traders. With a massive range of tradable currencies, low account minimums and an impressive trading platform, FOREX.com is an excellent choice for brokers searching for a home base for their currency trading. New traders and seasoned veterans alike will love FOREX.com’s extensive education and research center that provides free, informative forex trading courses at multiple skill levels. While FOREX.com is impressive, remember that it isn’t a standard broker.
- MetaTrader 4 users
- Beginner forex traders
- Active forex traders
- Impressive, easy-to-navigate platform
- Wide range of education and research tools
- Access to over 80 currencies to buy and sell
- Leverage available up to 50:1
- Cannot buy and sell other securities (like stocks and bonds)
$10 value per pip
1 Minute Review
IG is a comprehensive forex broker that offers full access to the currency market and support for over 80 currency pairs. The broker only offers forex trading to its U.S.-based customers, the brokerage does it spectacularly well. Novice traders will love IG’s intuitive mobile and desktop platforms, while advanced traders will revel in the platform’s selection of indicators and charting tools. Though IG could work on its customer service and fees, the broker is an asset to new forex traders and those who prefer a more streamlined interface.
- New forex traders who are still learning the ropes
- Traders who prefer a simple, clean interface
- Forex traders who trade primarily on a tablet
- Easy-to-navigate platform is easy for beginners to master
- Mobile and tablet platforms offer full functionality of the desktop version
- Margin rates are easy to understand and affordable
- Access to over 80 currency pairs
- U.S. traders can currently only trade forex
- Customer service options are lacking
- No 2-factor authentication on mobile
0.09% spread cost
1 Minute Review
Though Australian and British traders might know eToro for its easy stock and mobile trading, the broker is now expanding into the United States with cryptocurrency trading. U.S. traders can begin buying and selling both major cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) as well as smaller names (like Tron Coin and Stellar Lumens).
eToro offers traders the opportunity to invest their assets into premade portfolios or cryptocurrencies, similar to services offered by robo-advisors through traditional brokers. Though eToro isn’t a one-stop-shop for everything an investor needs, its easy-to-use platform and low spreads is a great way to enter the cryptocurrency market.
- International Forex/CFD Traders
- New cryptocurrency traders looking for an easy-to-use platform
- Traders who want to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on-the-go
- Simple platform that is easy to master
- CopyTrader feature that allows new traders to copy the same strategies used by professionals
- Virtual dummy account that gives you $100,000 to practice trades
- U.S. traders currently limited to cryptocurrencies
- Only 15 major coins available to trade
Best Brokers for Crypto Trading
You can divert quite a bit of risk trading crypto with the right broker. Take a look at some of the more reputable and popular choices.
0.50% per sale
1 Minute Review
Coinbase is one of the Internet’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms. From Bitcoin to Litecoin or Basic Attention Token to Chainlink, Coinbase makes it exceptionally simple to buy and sell major cryptocurrency pairs.
You can even earn cryptocurrency rewards through Coinbase’s unique Coinbase Earn feature. More advanced traders will love the Coinbase Pro platform, which offers more order types and enhanced functionality.
Though Coinbase doesn’t offer the most affordable pricing or the lowest fees, its simple platform is easy enough for complete beginners to master in as little as a single trade.
- New cryptocurrency traders
- Cryptocurrency traders interested in major pairs
- Cryptocurrency traders interested in a simple platform
- Simple platform is easy to operate
- Comprehensive mobile app mirrors desktop functionality
- Coinbase Earn feature rewards you with crypto for learning about available coins
- Higher fees than competitors
Depends on security and leverage
$50 for US and Australia; $200 everywhere else
1 Minute Review
eToro, headquartered in Cyprus, England and Israel, has provided forex products and other CFD derivatives to retail clients since 2007. A major eToro plus is its social trading operations, including OpenBook, which allows new clients to copy trade the platform’s best performers. Its social trading features are top notch, but eToro loses points for its lack of tradable currency pairs and underwhelming research and customer service features
- U.S.-based cryptocurrency traders
- Social and copy traders
- Simple user interface
- Community engagement and following other traders
- Expansive network of social trading features
- Large client base for new traders to imitate
- U.S. traders can only buy cryptocurrency
- Only 15 cryptocurrency pairs available
1 Minute Review
Voyager is a leading name in the sphere of cryptocurrency investing, giving you access to over 50 tokens and coins. Buy, sell and swap assets using Voyager Crypto’s simple mobile platform available as a free download for iOS and Android users.
When you invest through Voyager, you’ll pay nothing in commissions, which is a major benefit when compared to other cryptocurrency brokers. Voyager is also one of the only brokers we’ve seen that allows users to earn interest on their crypto investments.
Though the broker could do more to improve its customer service, it’s an excellent option for beginner investors and seasoned professionals alike.
- Cryptocurrency investors looking for a wide selection of supported projects.
- Investors who prefer mobile trading.
- Anyone interested in earning interest on their crypto investments.
- Simple, straightforward and intuitive mobile platform
- Wealth of investment opportunities
- Allows users to earn interest on select crypto investments
- Only available for mobile users — no desktop platform
- Limited routes to contact customer service team
Which Market is Right for You?
The forex and crypto markets share characteristics but they couldn’t have a more different risk-reward dynamic. If you want a smooth, liquid market that rewards patience, forex may be your game. If you’re looking for pure growth, then you may want to look into cryptocurrencies. Consider talking to a financial advisor about forex versus crypto, and never speculate in any market with money that you are not willing to lose.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is more profitable, crypto or forex?
It’s not a matter of profitability but rather liquidity and volatility when it comes to crypto vs forex. Forex can offer more liquidity while crypto is usually known for being more volatile, which can mean a higher reward with a higher risk.
Can you lose money on Bitcoin?
Of course you can. Any time you invest in the markets you have the opportunity to lose much like you have the opportunity to gain.
FOREX.com, registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), lets you trade a wide range of forex markets plus spot metals with low pricing and fast, quality execution on every trade.
ForexSignals.com offers a highly rated platform with mentors who have 80 years of combined experience in the trading pits. They’ll help you decode real-time daily live streams using market analysis, trade signals and more. ForexSignals.com doesn’t stop there. You can access hundreds of educational videos and workshops and even individualized private sessions with mentors. Never trade alone! Join ForexSignals.com now.