What is MetaTrader 4 (MT4)?
To trade forex online, you will need a trading platform. While there may be dozens of different types of trading platforms to choose from, the MetaTrader 4 or MT4 trading platform is the most well known platform in the industry. Developed by MetaQuotes Software in 2005, the MT4 trading platform is often regarded as the industry standard and is widely adopted by the majority of the brokers in the forex trading industry. The MT4 software comprises of two main components, a client and a server. What many traders download and install onto their desktop computer is the client component. The server component on the other hand is managed and operated by the broker.
MetaTrader 4, also known as MT4, is an electronic trading platform widely used by online retail foreign exchange traders. It was developed by MetaQuotes Software and released in 2005. The software is licensed to foreign exchange brokers who provide the software to their clients. The software consists of both a client and server component. The server component is run by the broker and the client software is provided to the broker’s customers, who use it to see live streaming prices and charts, to place orders, and to manage their accounts.
The MT4 trading platform is able to support both pending orders and market orders. When a trader sets a trade with a pending order, this means that the trade will only be executed when the price of the instrument reaches a specific level.
For market orders, they can be in the form of market execution, instant execution, exchange execution or request execution:
- With market execution, trades are executed based on the market price rather than what is displayed on the trading platform.
- This is in direct contrast to instant execution where trades are executed at the price which is displayed on the trading platform.
- For exchange execution, trading orders are processed by the exchange instead based on the current depth of the market.
- Finally with a request execution order, traders are able to carry out a market order with a 2 step process. First of all, a quote is requested by the trader, upon the system receiving the quote gives the trader a few seconds to decide if he wants to proceed to the second stage which is to execute the trade. Although decisively slower than other types of market orders, request order offers traders certainty in the price that they will get. However, the trade-off will be a slower execution pace.
Although most brokers will offer their traders at least one version of their MT4 platform, the MT4 actually comes in several versions which are:
- Client Terminal
- Mobile apps
- MetaTrader 4 Manager
Why is MT4 so popular?
For a beginner trader, the forex market can prove to be extremely intimidating especially with all the decisions that he has to make. Nevertheless, the task of choosing the trading platform is not something a beginner trader can do without receiving proper guidance and hence the purpose of this guide on what the MT4 trading platform is all about. Adopted by hundreds of brokers around the world, the MT4 platform is able to offer traders a safe and secure trading environment. However, its popularity can largely be attributed to the following reasons:
User Friendly Interface
The interface of the trading platform is well designed and enables traders to trade the dynamic forex market with a minimum of fuss. Regardless of one’s trading experience, it is a platform that is able to satisfy both the needs of experienced traders as well as beginner traders.
Support Multiple Languages
Because the MT4 trading platform is able to support dozens of languages, traders from all over the world will have no difficulties in operating the MT4 platform in their own native languages.
Advanced Charting Package
For forex traders, one of the tools that they rely on extensively to help them analyze the forex market is the price chart. With the MT4 trading platform advanced charting package, traders are able to analyze and trade the market almost simultaneously. The charting package also comes with a wide array of technical indicators which traders can overlay onto their price chart.
Expert Advisors (EAs)
The most defining feature of the MT4 trading platform is its ability to support automated trading through the use of expert advisors. EAs are basically software scripts which are written using the MQL 4 language that are integrated with the MT4 platform to execute trades automatically , based on the parameter established by the trader. It is mainly because of this feature that the MT4 became extremely popular among forex traders.
Built in Communication Tool
The MT4 also comes integrated with an advanced communication tool that let forex brokers post messages to traders in real time hence eliminating long email threads.
Low Resources platform
Unlike flash driven trading platforms, the MT4 trading platform is not heavy on computer resources hence causing minimum disruptions to one’s computer. Because the MT4 platform doesn’t hog all the computer resources, traders can respond better to changes in the market.
Due to the nature of forex trading, security is paramount to ensure the safety of traders’ personal information and data. With its 128 bit security key, the MT4 is able to offer traders a highly secured trading environment this is not susceptible to attacks from hackers.
The MT4 is also highly customizable and traders may change the look of the trading screens to suit their individual preferences.
Why should I choose a MetaTrader forex broker?
With the MT4 trading platform being the industry standard, it is a strong reason for you to stick to a trading platform that is already proven and widely accepted. Although the trading platform can seem complicated, there are plenty of websites on the internet which can provide support and knowledge on tapping the full potential of the MT4 trading platform. In fact, the popularity of the MT4 trading platform is a real life testimony of the benefits that traders can derive from this platform.
How to choose a MetaTrader broker?
As mentioned earlier, most forex brokers in the industry offer the MT4 trading platform to their traders. So the key to selecting the best MT4 broker to trade with then should be based on other factors such as customer support, the spreads that are available as well as other value added services which the broker is able to provide. For example if the internet services in your area is unstable or unreliable and you wish to run EAs, you might want to consider forex brokers that offer VPS services as part of the products and service offerings. This helps you to minimize the chance of downtime due to your unstable internet connection.
Pros and Cons of MetaTrader
No trading software in the world is perfect and each is bound to have its own strengths and weakness. The same goes for the MT4 trading platform. While MT4 have numerous advantages, it also comes with its own weakness.
Advantages of MT4
- Easy to deploy
- Free Trading Software
- Lots of third party support
- Widely adopted by hundreds of brokers around the world
- Good charting package
- Option to add Expert Advisors (EA)
- MT4 is very common around the world and therefore there are many guides and support for its users
Disadvantages of the MT4 Platform
- Custom time frames unavailable for the charts
- MQL4 language is not bug free
- MQL4 language only applicable for trade related programming
- Unsuitable for high frequency trading operations
Surprisingly despite the fact that the MT4 trading platform has been around for more than a decade, it is still the most popular trading platform around in the online forex trading industry, even with all of the latest technological innovations. This trading platform has proven that it is unequalled in the entire industry. The various tools and features that can be found on the platform certainly go a long way towards enhancing the trader’s trading ability which in turn increases his chance of success in the forex market. Here we have pinpointed the ultimate brokers offering the MT4 platform.