Dukascopy Expands Into Middle East

May 14, 2018 — 2:51 PM EDT

Dukascopy will open a Dubai representative office, marking the first step toward full-blown Middle Eastern trading operations. In addition to its Geneva headquarters, the forex and CFD broker currently runs satellite operations in Moscow, Hong Kong, Kiev, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. The new office will operate out of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which has a self-contained regulatory and judicial system, as well as a global financial exchange and tax-friendly scheme. DIFC has grown into a top choice for financial operations looking to build Middle Eastern coverage.

The representative office could generate strong profits to compensate for strict European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) leverage requirements set to go into effect in the European Union later this year. Those rules could adversely affect Euro-rivals that include FxPro, Trade.Com, CMC Markets and SwissQuote. Industry consolidation, including mergers and acquisitions, is widely expected in reaction to the new regulations.

Robinhood Could Become Largest Crypto Platform in 2018

No-fee innovator Robinhood has raised $363 million in Series D funding that now values the industry disruptor at $5.6 billion. The capital should speed up the rollout of commission-free bitcoin and ethereum trading, now available in 10 states including California, Florida and Michigan. Co-founder and co-CEO Baiju Bhatt said in a recent interview that he expects full U.S. coverage by the end of 2018.

Bhatt added that Robinhood will "be either the largest or one of the largest cryptocurrency platforms out there" by the end of the year. The funding news is likely to force other forward-thinking brokers to step up efforts to build out cryptocurrency platforms. Rival ChoiceTrade recently announced a major hook-up with a blockchain company in an effort to build out technology capacity while it seeks partnerships with cryptocurrency exchanges.

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Winklevoss Twins One Step Closer To Crypto Expansion 

The U.S, Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has awarded a patent to Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, allowing them to move ahead with plans to settle exchange-traded products (ETPs) that utilize bitcoin, ripple, ethereum and dogechain cryptocurrencies. Nasdaq recently entered into a partnership with Winklevoss-owned and operated cryptocurrency exchange Gemini and is set to provide state-of-the-art surveillance technology to detect manipulation and fraud.

Quickly moving industry events may force skeptical discount brokers to initiate or expand meager cryptocurrency offerings. Charles Schwab has taken a "wait and see" attitude toward the digital currencies so far in 2018 and still doesn't offer CME or CBOE bitcoin futures to account holders. E*TRADE offers both futures contracts but no direct ownership, while TD Waterhouse clients can only trade the CME contract. 

eToro Stepping Away From Crypto CFDs

Israel, Cyprus and U.K. special investment network eToro has written to account holders, advising that open positions in cryptocurrency CFDs will be closed and switched to physical holdings that carry no leverage. The switch follows February comments by CEO Yoni Assia that, given high volatility in the digital currency markets, eToro's best approach was to offer no leverage while focusing client interest on long-term holdings rather than short-term speculation.

Volumes Hit 2018 Low for Controversial Broker

London's FXCM reported that April volume fell to $184 billion, a 12% decline from March and a 26% decline from January's $250 billion. Active accounts also fell in April, dropping less than 1% compared with March but 15% year over year. The controversial broker no longer conducts business in the United States, banned by the National Futures Association (NFA) following fraud charges. Prior to the scandal, the company ran the largest U.S. forex operation.