Pros and Cons of Binary Options

By Cofnas, Abe | Futures (Cedar Falls, IA), March 2013 | Go to article overview

Pros and Cons of Binary Options


Cofnas, Abe, Futures (Cedar Falls, IA)


Anyone interested in learning how to trade has been told the best first step is paper trading. In today's electronic world, "paper trading" means tapping into many demo programs available that don't use real money but can help you learn the market ebbs and flows and trade using various technical tools. Another method to learn how to trade, especially forex, is to use binary options. These are an increasingly popular type of global trading tool. In fact, Google Trends data indicates that the search term "binary options" has risen parabolically in the past two years, and now has exceeded the frequency of the search term "forex trading."

Along with this increase in interest is the Internet growth of white-label platforms offered for binary options. This isn't surprising because binary options have many positives, one being the ability to put on a trade for a simple "yes" or "no" on whether a market will be up or down within an expiration time that can be between five and 30 minutes. Also, many trades can return more than 70%. No doubt, this kind of trading is extremely attractive. From a technical perspective these are atthe-money options with very short-term expirations. But from a risk management point of view, binary options require a win/ loss ratio of 6-out-of-10 trades to break even.

Binary options come in many different flavors, such as "onetouch" options where a trader can anticipate that the price will touch a level. There also are range options, where a trader can take a position on whether the price will stay within a specific range. On some platforms, traders can select their own target strike prices. There are also 60-second expiration options. These are the most difficult to end up in-the-money because the price behavior in these durations is very volatile. Many firms offer binary options that basically are set, which lock in a position until expiration, although some firms allow closing the position before expiration. Yes, binary options are exciting, offering within minutes the result of a win or loss.

But with any high-growth market comes challenges. For example, choosing the right broker or platform is key. As with any new instrument and industry, binary options have a "wild west" aspect. Many firms that offer these platforms are licensed offshore and fall outside the stricter regulatory umbrella and standards that are common in the United States, Europe and Australia. As a result, some firms use questionable marketing tactics designed to lure customers with give-aways, such as iPhones and flat-screen TVs. The reality is most customers lose their money, and lose it quickly with these schemes. …

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