By Jeffrey Cammack Updated: April 24, 2020

ECN stands for Electronic Communication Network, and ECN Forex brokers use this network to give traders direct access to other participants in currency markets via the lighting-fast FIX protocol. Because they provide direct access to the market, ECN Brokers have tighter spreads and operate without the inherent conflict of interest that exists with traditional brokers.

These are the best ECN Forex brokers in South Africa, compared by trust, reputation, platform support and trading conditions.

By Jeffrey Cammack Updated: April 24, 2020
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  • Broker
    IC Markets

    IC Markets  - Best ECN Broker

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    ASIC ASIC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 200
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    • cTrader
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Equities
    • Bonds
    • Futures
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Paypal
    • Unionpay
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    RAW - cTrader0.0 pips$3.00MarketUSD 200 Account Details
    RAW - MetaTrader0.0 pips$3.50MarketUSD 200 Account Details
    Standard - MetaTrader1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
  • Broker
    FXTM

    FXTM  - Best Overall Broker

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    FSCA FSCA
    FSC FSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 10
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Metals
    • Equities
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Maestro
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Bitcoin
    • Unionpay
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Cent Account1.5 pipsNoneInstantUSD 10 Account Details
    Standard Account1.3 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    ECN Zero Account1.5 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
    ECN Account0.1 pips$2.00MarketUSD 500 Account Details
    FXTM Pro Account0.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 25000 Account Details
  • Broker
    FP Markets

    FP Markets  - Most Trusted Broker

    REGULATED BY
    ASIC ASIC
    CySEC CySEC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    • IRESS
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Metals
    • Equities
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Paypal
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Fasapay
    • BPay
    • paytrust88
    • POLi
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Standard IRESSN/A pips$10 AUD min, then 0.1%STPUSD 1,000 Account Details
    Platinum IRESSN/A pips$9 AUD min, then 0.09%STPUSD 25,000 Account Details
    Premier IRESSN/A pipsNo min, then 0.08%STPUSD 50,000 Account Details
    RAW0.0 pips$3.50STPUSD 100 Account Details
    Standard1.0 pipsNoneSTPUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    IronFX

    IronFX  - Best Trading Conditions

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    ASIC ASIC
    FSCA FSCA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Equities
    • Futures
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Maestro
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Unionpay
    • Fasapay
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Live Fixed Spread2.2 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    Live Floating Spread1.1 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    Live Zero Spread0.0 pips$18InstantUSD 500 Account Details
    STP/ECN No Commission1.7 pipsNoneECN/STPUSD 500 Account Details
    STP/ECN Zero Spread0.0 pips$7.50ECN/STPUSD 500 Account Details
  • Broker
    Vantage FX

    Vantage FX  - Best Trading Platforms

    REGULATED BY
    FCA FCA
    ASIC ASIC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 200
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    Trading Instruments
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Energies
    • Commodities
    • Metals
    Deposit Methods
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Bank Transfer
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Paypal
    • Unionpay
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Standard1.4 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
    Raw0.0 pips6 USD / LotMarketUSD 500 Account Details
    Pro0.0 pips4 USD / LotMarketUSD 20000 Account Details
  • Broker
    ThinkMarkets

    ThinkMarkets  - Most Assets Available

    REGULATED BY
    FSCA FSCA
    FCA FCA
    ASIC ASIC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 5
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Metals
    • Equities
    • Futures
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Skrill
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Standard0.4 pipsNoneMarketUSD 5 Account Details
    ThinkZero0.0 pips7 USDMarketUSD 500 Account Details
  • REGULATED BY
    FCA FCA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    GBP 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Equities
    • ETFs
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Advanced Account1.4 pipsNoneSTPUSD 100 Account Details
    Copy Trading1.4 pipsNoneSTPUSD 500 Account Details
    Pro Account1.0 pipsNoneSTPUSD 5000 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 50
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    • cTrader
    Trading Instruments
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Metals
    Deposit Methods
    • Visa
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Bitcoin
    • Fasapay
    • Bank Transfer
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    cTrader ECN pips$3.00MarketUSD 100 Account Details
    MT4 Micro0.4 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    MT5 Pro0.2 pipsNoneMarketUSD 500 Account Details
  • REGULATED BY
    FCA FCA
    ASIC ASIC
    DFSA DFSA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 5
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Indicies
    • Metals
    • WTIs
    Deposit Methods
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Maestro
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Bank Transfer
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    MT4 Pro Account0.1 pips$7MarketUSD 5 Account Details
    MT4 Standard Account1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 5 Account Details
  • REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    B.V.I FSC B.V.I FSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 150
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Forex
    • Equities
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • Bitcoin
    • Unionpay
    • Broker to Broker
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Cent.Eurica pips0.03%-0.07%InstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Cent.Standard3 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Insta.Eurica pips0.03%-0.07%InstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Insta.Standard3 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Islamic pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    IFSC IFSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 1
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Cryptocurrencies
    • Forex
    • Metals
    • Equities
    Deposit Methods
    • Visa
    • Neteller
    • Unionpay
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Cent1.0 pipsNoneSTPUSD 1 Account Details
    Islamic0.0 pipsNoneSTPUSD 1 Account Details
    Micro3.0 pipsNoneSTPUSD 5 Account Details
    Standard0.5 pipsNoneSTPUSD 100 Account Details
    Zero Spread0.0 pips$20STPUSD 500 Account Details
    ECN0.0 pipsNoneECNUSD 1000 Account Details
  • REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 500
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • Sirix
    Trading Instruments
    • Commodities
    • Forex
    • Equities
    Deposit Methods
    • Bank Transfer
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    InstitutionalNot Published pipsNot PublishedMarket Volume Based Account Details
    Basic2.4 pipsNoneMarketUSD 500 Account Details
    Standard1.4 pipsNoneMarketUSD 5000 Account Details
    Advanced Mark-Up1.1 pipsNoneMarketUSD 10000 Account Details
    Advanced RAW0.0 pips$5.50MarketUSD 10000 Account Details
    Premium Mark-up0.8 pipsNoneMarketUSD 50000 Account Details
    Premium RAW0.0 pips$4.00MarketUSD 50000 Account Details

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All Forex Brokers in South Africa

What is an ECN Broker?

Brokers come in two distinct types – dealing desks (also known as market makers) and non-dealing desks (the most common of which are ECN).

To understand what an ECN broker is we first need to understand what a dealing desk is and how the two differ.

Dealing desks are often called market makers because they are the market – when a dealing desk prices a trade that you see on your platform, you are seeing what they have decided is a fair price, given the current market conditions.

If you agree to this price and decide to make the trade offered, you are dealing with the broker, not with the wider market, and they will be the counterparty to your trade. In essence, they are betting against you – if you lose money on that trade, the broker is going to profit.

There is an obvious conflict of interest inherent in this business model and, for this reason, some traders prefer to have a neutral party as a conduit for their trading.

Dealing desks tend to not take a commission on trades, instead of making money through the spread and their trading platforms tend to be relatively easy to learn. Markets on a dealing desk platform will also be less volatile – a disadvantage to scalpers – and slippage (a change in price between confirming a trade and the trade being posted) can be an issue.

But how are ECN brokers different?

The clue is the name: ECN (Electronic Communication Network). ECNs are so called because they rely on a network of market participants (usually large lenders such as banks) to serve as counterparties to Forex trades. When you post a trade with a true ECN they will find a third-party to take the other side of your trade, removing the conflict of interest present with a market maker.

ECN brokers will charge a commission for this service (as they cannot profit from your trade), but spreads tend to be much tighter than with market makers. At times of market volatility on major currency pairs, you will often see spreads disappear entirely, down to zero pips. Another thing to remember with pure ECN brokers is that you may have delays to trade execution, resulting in requotes and slippage – this can be particularly difficult for scalpers in a high-volume market.

Another acronym you will often see in combination with ECN is STP (as in ECN/STP). STP is a method of the transaction – with STP your order is sent directly to the counterparty through the Financial Information Exchange (FIX) protocol. The FIX protocol decreases trade execution time, reduces slippage and ensures that traders get the best available pricing.

Conclusion

So, while ECN brokers do not have the inherent conflict of interest present with market makers, there are larger trading risks involved and the commission will always be charged on your trades. You will also often find that true ECN accounts will require a higher minimum deposit – putting them out of reach of a lot of new traders.

Are ECN brokers objectively better than market maker? I don’t believe this to be the case. All those we work with are trustworthy and well-regulated and broker choice is always down to personal preference. Whether you go with an ECN broker or a market maker, if you choose one from our list of the best in South Africa you will be in good hands.

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Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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