MT4/5 is the top choice trading platform among CFD brokers, even white labels.But, MetaQuotes' new white label requirements are troubling new offshore brokers.
Trading platform MetaTrader 4 (MT4) since its introduction in 2005 has grown to be a giant in the online foreign exchange industry. The software is now comfortably the number one choice for online retail forex traders.
MT4, which was primarily built for the forex market, was developed by MetaQuotes, a leading software development company that serves brokerages, banks, and exchanges.
In 2010, MetaQuotes introduced MetaTrader 5 (MT5), an upgraded version of the trading platform. The newer trading platform came with added features, such as support for trading in CFDs, stocks, options, and futures markets.
According to Finance Magnates Intelligence's analysis, MT4 and MT5 boasted a combined 78.7% share of the market at the close of 2020.
On June 7, 2021, MetaQuotes reported that MT5 became a more popular platform than MT4 for the first time in history. The developer reported at the time that the number of lines of MetaTrader 5 code 'exceeded 7 million' when the previous version numbered ‘only 2 million’.
These statistics prove the decades-long patronage MetaQuotes has been enjoying from both on- and offshore entities in the retail forex and CFD industry.
However, a recent development suggests that MetaQuotes might be following a more stringent agenda to measure up its standing with regulators around the world.
White Label Requirements: What's Changing?
Since 2018, MetaQuotes has not been selling MT4 full servers because of its campaign for brokers to transit to its newer technologically-advanced MT5 trading platform.
Hence, new brokers looking to offer forex and CFD services depend on white-label offerings from established brokers that have access to the MT4 servers to kick off their own brokerages, hence saving costs.
In addition, MetaQuotes offers white label services to brokerages who use the software provider’s infrastructure to run their own forex and CFD brands. Opting for MetaQuotes' white label service has been said to be much more expensive than patronising established brokers.
While this arrangement has been going on for years, Finance Magnates has learned that prospective forex and CFD brokers are finding it hard to be onboarded by white-label services to kick off their new brands.
This difficulty has been attributed to tougher requirements being requested by MetaQuotes from brokers before processing their white-label requests.
Finance Magnates learnt that the toughest of these requirements is corporate account verification said to have been introduced in July.
Other requirements include a certificate of incorporation, a register of directors and shareholders, and a proof of physical address.
New brokers are also required to provide a recent Certificate of Good Standing or a Certificate of Incumbency (if the company is older than six months), and confirmation of domain ownership with registration details in the company's full name.
They are also to provide a certified reference letter or statement issued by the bank. This statement, which verifies the existence of an active bank account, is required to contain the company’s registration number and registered address.
Furthermore, one of the latest onboarding requirements is for the key persons behind the brokerage to verify their identity on video recording with their passport or identity cards.
Corporate account verification is a big challenge because most brokers choose to start out in jurisdictions such as Seychelles, Vanuatu and St Vincent and the Grenadines where regulations are less stringent in order to save cost.
Compared to 'onshore' locations, offshore jurisdictions' requirements from news brokers are easier to meet; hence the reason they attract a lot of smaller-sized brokers who want to break into the retail trading industry.
So, What’s Really Happening?
Stakeholders in the industry who spoke with Finance Magnates observed that the new requirements are troubling for new brokers seeking to establish their presence in offshore jurisdictions in 2022.
Cristian Vlasceanu, the CEO of Cyprus-based Centroid Solutions, a technology provider that offers risk management, MT4/MT5 bridging, and hosting solutions to multi-asset brokers, confirmed the development to Finance Magnates.
He noted that the new rules apply both to entities looking to obtain a white label and those trying to get their MT5 license. “As far as I am aware, the same requirements are asked in both cases," Vlasceanu told Finance Magnates.
He explained: "This has caused some difficulties for new brokers looking to set up their white label or MT5 License, with a setback for those entities that had already established their entities and were already in the onboarding process or were just about to start the process."
Vlasceanu pointed out that the issue brokers are facing has to do with providing proof of a corporate bank account linked to their entity.
He noted that this is a challenge for some brokers "due to the fact that some entities were set up in jurisdictions where it is not straightforward to obtain a corporate bank account from a traditional bank.”
Vlasceanu further explained: "This has derailed some brokers from their original plans, being unable to pass this requirement and having to postpone the start of their operations.
"It also forced brokers to start the process of obtaining entities in more established jurisdictions, to then be able to match the new requirements.
"This of course takes time, which translates to delays, and also requires additional financial capital to be invested before they are able to begin their operations. Some brokers have also shifted to other trading platforms, to avoid such delays and be able to begin their operations."
Or Goldschmidt, the Head of Commercial Operations, at Panda Trading Systems, told Finance Magnates that the financial software provider “noticed the change in the know-your-customer procedure of MetaQuotes.”
Goldschmidt explained: “But in our case, we did not encounter any special issues apart from the additional little bureaucracy that took more time to launch and renew the license due to the new requirements.
“In the end, all of our clients, both new and old, that are using Meta White Label were able to launch and renew their contract as most of them had the new inputs Metaquotes required."
The Panda Trading systems executive pointed out that most of the 'problematic' updated requirements were in regards to the physical presence of brokers and their bank statements.
“I can understand why it is hard in some cases to provide such documentation as some of the brokers operate under offshore structures and in some cases without a physical bank or office in the registered jurisdiction," he added.
What Could be MetaQuotes' Motive?
The experts told Finance Magnates that MetaQuotes might be following a new policy direction to live up to its status.
Goldshmidt believes that MetaQuotes probably wants to “follow a stricter line of know-your-client procedure to be in the same standard of global financial institutions of their size.”
“I believe the additional checks are aimed at enhancing the quality of entities entering the brokerage space and to provide a safer trading environment for traders as well as reduce the chance of fraud and other bad practices,” Vlasceanu noted.
When contacted by Finance Magnates for clarification, MetaQuotes declined to comment on the issue. Christoforos Theodoulou, the Head of Global Business & Sales at MetaQuotes, noted that the company “cannot participate in anything related to our internal company policies.”
Impact of the Policy Shift
Industry stakeholders say new brokers unable to meet the requirements will learn to either adapt or seek other solutions.
“Similar to new regulators that became more mature with the years and upgraded the requirements, and in order to keep the license, you had to stick to the new requirements or otherwise seek another solution that aligned with your business interest, I believe that this is what will happen in this [MetaQuotes] case as well,” Goldshmidt explained.
In his comment, Vlasceanu noted that it has already been a trend for some time now for new brokers to seek alternatives to MT4 and MT5.
But, the number of brokers using this route is still small when compared to the numbers of MetaTrader brokers being established, the Centroid Solutions CEO added.
According to Vlasceanu, another trend Centroid Solutions observed in the industry is the preference of entities to obtain their own dedicated MT5 license as opposed to opting for a white-label setup.
“This has been supported by MetaQuotes with their new pricing which makes it cost-efficient to own the full license. This also gives brokers much more capabilities to control and adjust their offering, without being limited by the restrictions of a WL setup," he explained.
“More and more brokers will opt for this approach, and we already are seeing many existing brokerages migrating from a shared white label setup to a dedicated license," the CEO added.
With experts believing that MetaQuotes is likely deliberately following higher standards for its onboarding process to live up to its status in the industry, CFD brokers unable to meet the so-called stricter requirments, especially those seeking to start out in offshore jurisdictions, may continue to migrate to other alternative trading platforms.
They can as well choose to move to more established juridsctions where their chances of meeting these requirements are higher, although the cost of operating in these comparatively well-regulated regions may remain a constant turn off.
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