Forex Market or Foreign Exchange Market

A Foreign exchange market or Forex market is a market in which currencies are bought and sold. It is to be distinguished from a financial market where currencies are borrowed and lent.

General Features of Forex Market

Foreign exchange market is described as an OTC (Over the counter) market as there is no physical place where the participants meet to execute their deals. It is more an informal arrangement among the banks and brokers operating in a financing centre purchasing and selling currencies, connected to each other by tele communications like telex, telephone and a satellite communication network, SWIFT(Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). The term foreign exchange market is used to refer to the wholesale a segment of the market, where the dealings take place among the banks. The retail segment refers to the dealings take place between banks and their customers. The retail segment refers to the dealings take place between banks and their customers. The retail segment is situated at a large number of places. They can be considered not as foreign exchange markets, but as the counters of such markets. The leading foreign exchange market in India is Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and Delhi is other centre’s accounting for bulk of the exchange dealings in India. The policy of Reserve Bank has been to decentralize exchages operations and develop broader based exchange markets. As a result of the efforts of Reserve Bank Cochin, Bangalore, Ahmadabad and Goa have emerged as new centre of foreign exchange market.

Size of the Market

Foreign exchange market is the largest financial market with a daily turnover of over USD 2 trillion. Foreign exchange markets were primarily developed to facilitate settlement of debts arising out of international trade. But these markets have developed on their own so much so that a turnover of about 3 days in the foreign exchange market is equivalent to the magnitude of world trade in goods and services. The largest foreign exchange market is London followed by New York, Tokyo, Zurich and Frankfurt.

The business in foreign exchange markets in India has shown a steady increase as a consequence of increase in the volume of foreign trade of the country, improvement in the communications systems and greater access to the international exchange markets. Still the volume of transactions in these markets amounting to about USD 2 billion per day does not compete favorably with any well developed foreign exchange market of international repute. The reasons are not far to seek. Rupee is not an internationally traded currency and is not in great demand. Much of the external trade of the country is designated in leading currencies of the world, Viz., US dollar, pound sterling, Euro, Japanese yen and Swiss franc. Incidentally, these are the currencies that are traded actively in the foreign exchange market in India.

24 Hours Market

The markets are situated throughout the different time zones of the globe in such a way that when one market is closing the other is beginning its operations. Thus at any point of time one market or the other is open. Therefore, it is stated that foreign exchange market is functioning throughout 24 hours of the day. However, a specific market will function only during the business hours. Some of the banks having international network and having centralized control of funds management may keep their foreign exchange department in the key centre open throughout to keep up with developments at other centers during their normal working hours. In India, the market is open for the time the banks are open for their regular banking business. No transactions take place on Saturdays.


Developments in communication have largely contributed to the efficiency of the market. The participants keep abreast of current happenings by access to such services like Dow Jones Telerate and Teuter. Any significant development in any market is almost instantaneously received by the other market situated at a far off place and thus has global impact. This makes the foreign exchange market very efficient as if the functioning under one roof.

Currencies Traded in Forex Markets

In most markets, US dollar is the vehicle currency, Viz., the currency used to denominate international transactions. This is despite the fact that with currencies like Euro and Yen gaining larger share, the share of US dollar in the total turn over is shrinking.

Physical Markets

In few centers like Paris and Brussels, foreign exchange business takes place at a fixed place, such as the local stock exchange buildings. At these physical markets, the banks meet and in the presence of the representative of the central bank and on the basis of bargains, fix rates for a number of major currencies. This practice is called fixing. The rates thus fixed are used to execute customer orders previously placed with the banks. An advantage claimed for this procedure is that exchange rate for commercial transactions will be market determined, not influenced by any one bank. However, it is observed that the large banks attending such meetings with large commercial orders backing up, tend to influence the rates.

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