forex broker model

Choosing a Forex Broker Model

What is a Forex Broker Model?

Operating a Forex brokerage comes with various benefits, particularly the potential for lucrative returns. Establishing a Forex brokerage provides an opportunity to tap into this market by providing clients with a top-notch trading platform and online trading tools. Nonetheless, despite the numerous advantages inherent in the Forex industry, initiating and sustaining such a venture demands careful planning – especially as it relates to selecting the forex broker model to pursue.

There are three operational models that encompass the functioning of all Forex brokers. Each model carries its distinct set of advantages and drawbacks, yet their underlying principles remain akin. The selection of a specific brokerage system operation model directly impacts the earnings potential and overall business framework.

Model 1: A-Book Broker Model – NDD (No Dealing Desk) Mechanism

A-Book brokers function as client-counterparty brokers that refrain from direct trading with a company’s clients, avoiding gains or losses tied to client trades. Their primary revenue stems from margins and commissions. Within this category, three subtypes emerge: STP (Straight Through Processing), ECN (Electronic Communications Network), and DMA (Direct Market Access).

STP brokerage is characterized by a direct link between the client and the liquidity provider. Typically, the provider consolidates various liquidity sources, enhancing overall liquidity and offering improved prices. STP brokers present clients with the option of choosing between floating or fixed spreads. While major banks, serving as primary liquidity providers, provide fixed spreads, the aggregator can select the most favorable prices from all available buy and sell offers, occasionally resulting in zero or even negative spreads.

ECN systems facilitate direct trades between clients, serving as a platform where banks, market-makers, and private traders can conduct transactions directly. This arrangement can lead to transactions at better prices compared to those involving external counterparties, eliminating trading delays and ensuring near-perfect execution with sufficient liquidity.

DMA technology, the key feature being direct market access, allows all orders to reach liquidity providers without broker intervention. Each order enters the liquidity provider’s order book without intermediaries, essentially “creating a market.” DMA orders are executed at high speeds, providing traders with transparent execution at the best market price following the Best Bid – Best Ask principle.

The advantages of the A-Book Broker Model include:

  1. Transparency: A-Book brokers typically provide transparent pricing and execution. Clients can see the real market prices and participate in trading with minimal interference from the broker.
  2. No Conflict of Interest: A-Book brokers do not trade against their clients. Unlike B-Book brokers (Market Makers), A-Book brokers don’t benefit from client losses. This absence of a conflict of interest can enhance trust between the broker and the trader.
  3. Access to Interbank Liquidity: STP and ECN brokers often connect clients directly to interbank liquidity providers, which can result in better pricing and lower spreads. Traders may experience improved execution and reduced trading costs.
  4. Market Depth: ECN and DMA brokers provide access to market depth information, allowing traders to see the available liquidity at different price levels. This information can assist in making more informed trading decisions.
  5. Variable Spreads: A-Book brokers, particularly STP and ECN models, frequently offer variable spreads. This means that traders can benefit from tighter spreads during periods of high liquidity and market activity.
  6. Reduced Slippage: Direct market access and electronic communication networks can help minimize slippage, providing traders with better control over the execution of their orders, especially during volatile market conditions.
  7. Anonymity: ECN and DMA models often provide a level of anonymity to traders. Orders are matched electronically, and the counterparties are not disclosed, which can be advantageous in certain trading strategies.
  8. No Requotes: A-Book brokers typically do not engage in requoting practices. Traders receive execution at the available market prices, contributing to a smoother and more efficient trading experience.
  9. Scalping-Friendly: A-Book models, especially ECN and DMA, are generally more accommodating to scalping strategies due to their low-latency execution and access to market depth.

Model 2: B-Book Broker Model – DD (Dealing Desk) Mechanism

Brokers operating under the B-Book model function as market makers directly engaged in executing transactions. Their primary responsibility revolves around managing dual buy and sell orders aligned with the specified spread size, which represents the difference between the prices of the buy and sell orders, as dictated by the bank.

These brokers assume the roles of both buyers and sellers, generating revenue primarily through fixed spreads and the trading activities of their clients. Unlike A-Book brokers, the client requests of B-Book brokers do not extend to external counterparties. In this scenario, the broker acts as the counterparty, meticulously overseeing and controlling all client trading operations. Consequently, market makers employ various profitability-limiting strategies, including the introduction of delays in trade orders and the cancellation of transactions.

Advantages of the B-Book Broker Model include:

  1. Profit from Client Losses: One of the primary advantages for a B-Book broker is the ability to make profits when clients incur losses. The broker acts as the counterparty to the client’s trades, and gains when clients lose money.
  2. Risk Management Control: B-Book brokers have greater control over their overall risk exposure. By acting as the market maker, they can manage their own positions and exposure more effectively.
  3. Fixed Spreads: B-Book brokers often offer fixed spreads to their clients. This can provide predictability for traders, especially during periods of market volatility when spreads in the A-Book model might widen.
  4. No Commission Charges: In many cases, B-Book brokers do not charge explicit commissions on trades. Instead, they make money from the spread, which can be appealing to certain types of traders.
  5. Order Execution Control: B-Book brokers have control over the execution of client orders. They can manage order flow, execute trades instantly, and provide a smoother trading experience for clients.
  6. Flexibility in Pricing: B-Book brokers have the flexibility to set their own prices for currency pairs. This can lead to competitive pricing and potentially more attractive trading conditions for certain clients.

While the B-Book model has these advantages for the broker, traders are often aware of the potential conflicts of interest. As the broker profits from client losses, traders are often considered about the fairness and transparency of trade execution.

Model 3: Hybrid Model

Brokers utilizing a hybrid model have the flexibility to choose whether to route profitable trades to external liquidity providers or execute them internally. The flow of profitable trades directed to liquidity providers is often labeled as “toxic.” When a liquidity provider detects a toxic flow, they may decrease the quality of execution provided to that broker. Consequently, traders may experience increased instances of slippage as a result.


Selecting the correct forex broker model is an essential step in launching a profitable forex broker. Adam Tracy offers guidance on forex broker licensing, liquidity and payment flows. Be sure to reach out with any questions or comments!

Otherwise, you can book a meeting here.

About Adam Tracy

Adam Tracy is a payments expert and entrepreneur who specializes in payment systems, blockchain technology, digital currencies, and other emerging technologies. He is the founder of Blockrunner, LLC that provides consulting services to clients in the blockchain, payments and cryptocurrency arenas.

Tracy has been involved in the payments industry as an attorney, consultant and entrepreneur since 2005, while he was become an expert in blockchain and cryptocurrency since its advent in 2013. Tracy has worked with a wide range of clients, including startups, established businesses, and investor – both in the United States and worldwide. He has advised clients on a wide range of compliance, legal and operational issues related to payment transfer systems, crypto token generation and architecture, cryptocurrency exchanges, regulatory licensing, smart contracts, and other blockchain applications.

In addition to his consulting work, Tracy has founded several companies in the payments, blockchain and cryptocurrency space, including a digital asset hedge fund, licensed electronic money institution and a blockchain-based tokenization platform. He is also a proponent of decentralized finance (DeFi) and has been involved in various DeFi projects.

Tracy is also a frequent speaker and writer on blockchain and cryptocurrency topics. He has been featured in a wide range of publications, including Forbes, Hollywood Reporters, CNBC, Reuters, CoinDesk, and

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