Different Types of Transactions in the Foreign Exchange Market

A very brief account of certain important types of transactions conducted in the foreign exchange market is given below

Spot and Forward Exchanges

Spot Market:

The term spot exchange refers to the class of foreign exchange transaction which requires the immediate delivery or exchange of currencies on the spot. In practice the settlement takes place within two days in most markets. The rate of exchange effective for the spot transaction is known as the spot rate and the market for such transactions is known as the spot market.

Forward Market:

The forward transactions is an agreement between two parties, requiring the delivery at some specified future date of a specified amount of foreign currency by one of the parties, against payment in domestic currency be the other party, at the price agreed upon in the contract. The rate of exchange applicable to the forward contract is called the forward exchange rate and the market for forward transactions is known as the forward market. The foreign exchange regulations of various countries generally regulate the forward exchange transactions with a view to curbing speculation in the foreign exchanges market. In India, for example, commercial banks are permitted to offer forward cover only with respect to genuine export and import transactions. Forward exchange facilities, obviously, are of immense help to exporters and importers as they can cover the risks arising out of exchange rate fluctuations be entering into an appropriate forward exchange contract. With reference to its relationship with spot rate, the forward rate may be at par, discount or premium. If the forward exchange rate quoted is exact equivalent to the spot rate at the time of making the contract the forward exchange rate is said to be at par.

The forward rate for a currency, say the dollar, is said to be at premium with respect to the spot rate when one dollar buys more units of another currency, say rupee, in the forward than in the spot rate on a per annum basis.

The forward rate for a currency, say the dollar, is said to be at discount with respect to the spot rate when one dollar buys fewer rupees in the forward than in the spot market. The discount is also usually expressed as a percentage deviation from the spot rate on a per annum basis.

The forward exchange rate is determined mostly be the demand for and supply of forward exchange. Naturally when the demand for forward exchange exceeds its supply, the forward rate will be quoted at a premium and conversely, when the supply of forward exchange exceeds the demand for it, the rate will be quoted at discount. When the supply is equivalent to the demand for forward exchange, the forward rate will tend to be at par.


While a focus contract is similar to a forward contract, there are several differences between them. While a forward contract is tailor made for the client be his international bank, a future contract has standardized features the contract size and maturity dates are standardized. Futures cab traded only on an organized exchange and they are traded competitively. Margins are not required in respect of a forward contract but margins are required of all participants in the futures market an initial margin must be deposited into a collateral account to establish a futures position.


While the forward or futures contract protects the purchaser of the contract fro m the adverse exchange rate movements, it eliminates the possibility of gaining a windfall profit from favorable exchange rate movement. An option is a contract or financial instrument that gives holder the right, but not the obligation, to sell or buy a given quantity of an asset as a specified price at a specified future date. An option to buy the underlying asset is known as a call option and an option to sell the underlying asset is known as a put option. Buying or selling the underlying asset via the option is known as exercising the option. The stated price paid (or received) is known as the exercise or striking price. The buyer of an option is known as the long and the seller of an option is known as the writer of the option, or the short. The price for the option is known as premium.

Types of options: With reference to their exercise characteristics, there are two types of options, American and European. A European option cab is exercised only at the maturity or expiration date of the contract, whereas an American option can be exercised at any time during the contract.

Swap operation

Commercial banks who conduct forward exchange business may resort to a swap operation to adjust their fund position. The term swap means simultaneous sale of spot currency for the forward purchase of the same currency or the purchase of spot for the forward sale of the same currency. The spot is swapped against forward. Operations consisting of a simultaneous sale or purchase of spot currency accompanies by a purchase or sale, respectively of the same currency for forward delivery are technically known as swaps or double deals as the spot currency is swapped against forward.


Arbitrage is the simultaneous buying and selling of foreign currencies with intention of making profits from the difference between the exchange rate prevailing at the same time in different markets.

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