In the past, currency trading was limited to certain individuals and institutions. That's because the funds required to play were significantly higher than for any other investment instrument. However, with the development of electronic trading networks and margin accounts, requirements have changed. Although nearly 75% of forex trading is still done by large banks and financial institutions, individuals are now able to invest in forex with as little as $1,000 – thanks in large part to the use of leverage.
By using a margin account, investors essentially borrow money from their brokers. Of course, margin accounts can also be used by investors to trade in equity securities. The main difference between trading equities and trading forex on margin is the degree of leverage that is provided.
For equity securities, brokers usually offer a 2:1 leverage to investors. On the other hand, forex traders are offered between 50:1 and 200:1 leverage. This means that traders need to deposit between $250 and $2,000 to trade positions of $50,000 to $100,000. (See also: Margin Trading.)
Forex traders are usually given several options when deciding how they will deposit funds into trading accounts. Credit card deposits have by far become the easiest way. Since the development of online payment services, digital credit card payouts have become increasingly efficient and secure. Investors can simply log in to their respective forex accounts, type in their credit card information and the funds will be posted in about one business day.
Investors can also transfer funds into their trading accounts from an existing bank account or send the funds through a wire transfer or online check. Traders are also usually able to write a check directly to their forex brokers. The only problem with using these other methods is the amount of time that is needed to process the payments. For example, paper checks can be held for up to 10 business days before being added to a trading account. (See also: Wading Into The Currency Market.)