Often referred to as the Emerald Isle because of its magnificent green scenery, the Republic of Ireland is an island country with a population of 4.9 million people and a gross domestic product of $382.7 million for 2018. The country’s mixed economy is largely driven by the agriculture, fishing, tourism, and industry sectors.
The 2008 financial crisis had a devastating effect on the Irish economy, so much so that the country was forced to seek a bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the country managed to get back on its feet a decade or so later. It presently boasts one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, with exports being the key to Ireland’s economic salvation.
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Ireland has strong trading partners in the face of major economic powers like the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Belgium, and France. Pharmaceuticals, computers, and organic chemicals are among the country’s biggest exports.
Its capital is home to the Irish Stock Exchange that currently trades under the name Euronext Dublin. Considered the world’s sixth biggest stock exchange group in terms of market capitalization, this pan-European trading entity was formed after the 2018 merger of the Brussels, Lisbon, Paris, Dublin, and London exchanges.
The country used its local Irish pound (IEP) until 2002 when it officially adopted the Euro (EUR) as its currency. Used throughout a significant part of Europe, the EUR surpassed the USD in terms of value and circulation in the third quarter of 2018.
Being one of the fastest-growing European economies in recent years, Ireland is beginning to attract investors’ attention as of late. It has an adequately regulated foreign exchange market, with both Forex and CFD trading being legal in the country.
Ireland Country Legislation
Irish investors can legally trade with a variety of financial instruments including spot Forex and contracts for difference, commonly abbreviated as CFDs. The birthplace of Halloween and St. Patrick has become an attractive destination for traders and brokerage firms alike, a fact we attribute to its lower corporate tax rates and hospitable regulatory climate under the MiFID structure.
The foreign exchange sector is regulated under the provisions of two important pieces of legislation that transpose to all EU member states, Ireland included. These are called the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) and its accompanying framework, the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR). The two are collectively known as MiFID II.
Originally implemented at the beginning of November 2007, MiFID I aimed at harmonizing the regulatory frameworks for investment services and securities across all countries that are part of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). It was replaced by a revised set of regulatory rules at the turn of 2018 that are collectively referred to as MiFID II.
The latter regulates the providers of investment services in financial instruments, including investment companies, brokerage firms, financial advisors, and credit institutions. The MiFID also applies to overseas companies that provide investment services to customers, based in member states of the EU.
The main advantage of this directive is that it ensures a standardized licensing process across all EU member states. Under the provisions of the MiFID, a foreign exchange broker can service customers from all member states as long as it has obtained authorization from the regulators of another EU country.
This is why some Forex brokers on the Irish market are actually licensed and supervised by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) or the Financial Conduct Authority of Great Britain (FCA).
The introduction of the MiFID was accompanied by the launch of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). This is a Paris-based supervisory authority whose two main functions include the harmonization and improvement of the financial markets on the Old Continent.
Additionally, ESMA strives to increase the level of customer protection. Most EU member states, including Ireland, regulate their Forex markets in line with ESMA’s guidelines. Thus, brokers that service the Emerald Isle market must provide their customers with transparent pricing and meet the requirements for a minimum starting capital.
Negative balance protection is also in place to prevent traders from losing more money than they have available in their balance. Another condition stipulates authorized financial firms must segregate their customers’ money from their operational capital. This way, if a company goes out of business, traders can receive their funds back instead of losing them irreversibly.
The Irish market is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, which runs the Investor Compensation Scheme (ICS). The latter aims to protect customers of authorized investment firms, such as stock and insurance brokers, that have declared insolvency.
Each Irish customer is entitled to maximum compensation of €20,000. It should be noted the scheme does not cover losses that have resulted from poor investment decisions and advice.
Authorized brokers can offer both spot and margin Forex trading with CFDs as long as they meet certain criteria. The firms must be completely transparent about the level of risk involved in margin trading. They should post disclaimers on their websites to show potential retails clients what percentage of customers lose money through margin trading.
Careful evaluations should be performed in advance to determine whether retail customers are competent enough to trade with volatile CFDs. Authorized brokers should not allow retail customers with minimal experience to dabble in such high-risk derivatives.
CFDs are leveraged instruments that enable traders to expand their trading volume way beyond their initial investments. The customer does not necessarily have to own the underlying asset to purchase a contract for difference.
They merely speculate with the price movements of said assets and profit if the prices move in their favor. If not, the trader can suffer catastrophic losses due to leverage. Because of this, CFDs are carefully regulated in Ireland in line with the ESMA guidelines. Continue reading for further information on leverage restrictions for CFD trading on the Emerald Isle.
Ireland Financial Regulators
The Forex market in the Land of Saints and Scholars is subject to the supervision of the Central Bank of Ireland. Established in February 1943, this financial institution was responsible for the issuing of IEP banknotes and coinage until the country adopted the Euro in 2002.
Its statutory responsibilities include ensuring financial and price stability, safeguarding consumers, providing economic advice and statistics, and regulating the financial services on Irish territory. All brokerages that accept customers from Ireland must either obtain the permission of the Central Bank or have licenses issued in another well-regulated member state of the European Union.
This financial regulator has a very informative website where Irish traders can find a detailed database with all brokerages that hold valid local licenses. We suggest you check the regulator’s register if you are unsure a broker you are interested in is properly licensed.
Authorized companies must adhere to strict regulatory frameworks and act in the best interests of Irish customers. To receive a license, a company must prove it is financially sound and meets the criteria for minimal capital adequacy. The Central Bank rigorously monitors its licensees to ensure they all operate in strict compliance with its guidelines.
The Irish regulator recently decided to step in and curb the risks associated with leverage trading after a wave of complaints from retail customers who have suffered massive losses.
An inspection conducted between 2013 and 2014 established that 75% of Irish retail CFD traders part with their money, incurring losses of €6,900 on average. A similar survey carried out by the Cyprus watchdog CySEC arrived at roughly the same conclusion.
As many as 290,000 retail accounts across 18 leading providers of CFDs were analyzed between January and August 2017. The results indicated that 76% of customers on average suffered losses during this period. Similar tendencies were observed in other EU jurisdictions, including Spain, Croatia, and France.
The Central Bank of Ireland then concluded that CFD trading is an unsuitable activity for retail customers. The regulator decided to limit the maximum leverage brokers could offer for this type of complex derivative, in line with the ESMA restrictions. Prior to the regulator’s intervention, retail clients with little to no experience were able to leverage their derivatives to a maximum of 400:1, even 500:1 in some instances.
Under the Contracts for Difference Intervention Measure of June 2019, licensed brokerages servicing the Irish market shall offer leverage of no more than 30:1 for major currency pairs like EUR/USD and GBP/USD. Note that the limits depend on the financial instruments’ volatility.
The riskier a given product is, the lower the ceiling on the allowed leverage. Respectively, the maximum leverage for major indices, gold, minor and exotic currency pairs is limited to 20:1 while that for all other commodities should not exceed 10:1. The leverage on individual equities and cryptocurrencies is restricted to 5:1 and 2:1, respectively.
Ireland Forex Payment Methods
One thing Irish traders certainly cannot complain about is lacking diversity in terms of payment methods. Regulated brokers that service the local market offer their clients tons of options where deposits and withdrawals are concerned.
The most common way to fund your Irish trading account is to use either a debit or a credit card. Nearly all brands are accepted although customers from the Emerald Isle lean toward Mastercard, Maestro, and Visa. American Express is used to a much lesser extent. Card deposits are efficient, quick, and safe. The transactions are heavily encrypted to safeguard customers from hacker attacks.
Still, some Irish traders prefer not to use their cards for such purposes. One common alternative, in this case, is to use a digital wallet like those offered by major financial services providers like PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and Neteller. All four e-wallets are widely accepted by Ireland-friendly brokerages.
An additional level of security is added by the fact the trader does not disclose any sensitive information when initiating an e-wallet transaction. They only need to enter the password and username for their e-wallet account and are then redirected to the platform of the wallet provider.
Another common option at Ireland brokerages is the bank transfer. You can move money from your bank account to that of your broker, either on the spot at the bank or via its online banking system.
Unfortunately, this method is not the quickest one, with most bank transfers being processed within a timeframe of two to five business days. On the plus side, it is commonly available for both deposits and withdrawals.
Irish traders should choose their local EUR as their base account currency. This would prevent them from having to pay extra for conversion. As for the minimum deposits, these are different depending on the brokerage firm you trade with.
Most of the time, the minimums for standard accounts range from €100 to €500. Some brokers offer minor and micro accounts where you can start trading with a significantly smaller initial investment.
Last but not least, some brokers charge additionally for inactivity if a trader’s account remains dormant for three months or more. Inactivity fees generally start at €10 but the exact charges are again broker-specific.
Popular Trading Software in Ireland
Being a Forex trader comes with more flexibility because the markets are open around the clock during business days. This enables investors to execute trades whenever and wherever they want, regardless of what device they choose to use. All reliable Ireland brokers are compatible with desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets.
However, the quality of your trading experience ultimately depends on the software your broker of choice implements. A good trading platform should be easy to use – intuitiveness is a desirable quality in the eyes of both beginner and advanced traders. Additionally, the platform should further seamless order execution and provide users with a set of analytical tools that can help them evaluate market trends.
Some Ireland-friendly brokers prefer to develop their platforms in-house while others choose third-party software, developed by companies like MetaQuotes. This Russian company is responsible for the creation of the most popular trading platforms in the world, MetaTrader 4, and its successor, MetaTrader 5.
Which one you choose depends on the type of instruments you intend to trade. MetaTrader 4 was designed specifically for trading on the Forex markets. Its successor supports several additional instruments including bonds, options, stocks, and futures. Either way, users will benefit from multiple timeframes, technical indicators, different chart types, and languages.
The Spotware Systems’ platform cTrader is next in terms of popularity. This software is often overshadowed by the two MetaQuotes platforms but nevertheless, offers multiple benefits. Used by many ECN brokers, cTrader offers standard depth-of-market tools that enable users to track market dynamics.
It has a user-friendly charting area, with traders having the option for customization. They have a choice from multi-chart, free-chart, and single-chart modes. The platform allows for many different timeframes and features over fifty technical indicators for market analysis.
Some companies develop proprietary software and then lease it to third-party brokerages as is the case with ZuluTrade. The most outstanding functionality of this platform is that it supports social trading. This feature enables you to follow fellow traders with years of experience behind their back and copy trades directly from their portfolios.
Mobile Trading in Ireland
Mobile devices have become an inseparable part of today’s modern way of life. More and more people prefer to access the Internet via their smartphones or tablets. The situation is not much different in Ireland where the number of smartphone users in 2016 stood at 3.2 million, with forecasts predicting an increase to 4.06 million by 2022.
Irish nationals resort to their mobile devices to browse online, check their emails and stay in touch on social media platforms. An increasing number of traders from the country are also taking their activities on the go. The good news is all major brokers that operate on the Irish market have optimized their platforms for use on portable devices.
What is better, the experience on mobile is the same as that on desktop, with traders having a broad choice of financial instruments and markets for spot Forex, contracts for difference, indexes, stocks, and commodities.
Some brokers have developed proprietary mobile applications while others prefer to work with the MetaQuotes apps, available for free at the two official mobile content platforms, the App Store and Google Play.
Either way, mobile traders from Ireland get on-the-go access to real-time quotes for the Forex markets, various analytical tools, multiple languages, many different timeframes, and tools for advanced charting. Armed with such apps, Irish traders can stay ahead of the latest market trends and prices.