Trading forex in India involves quite a few limitations and legal issues. Be sure to choose a broker overseen by a primary financial regulator, such as the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or Cyprus’ Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), which generally comply with the European Union’s rigorous Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) rules. Be aware that not all forex brokerages are created equal, so make sure your needs as a trader are adequately met by the forex broker you select before committing any funds.
Trading Forex in India
The national currency of India is the Indian rupee ₹ with an ISO 4217 symbol code of INR. The rupee is divided into 100 smaller denominations known as paisa (p). According to the Bank for International Settlements’ 2016 Triennial Central Bank Survey, the Indian currency was ranked 18th among world currencies, making up 1.1 percent of daily forex turnover.
Concerning the Indian financial sector regulation, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set forth the legal framework for foreign exchange transactions by the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) of 1999. The RBI regulates and oversees foreign exchange transactions in India, and the Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) is the principal regulator of the Indian stock market and the forex brokers based in India are licensed under FEMA.
The SEBI-regulated forex brokers, which include the three major stock exchanges in India, are only allowed to offer INR-based currency pairs for USD, EUR, GBP, and JPY. All other currency pairs are strictly barred from trading in India unless the Indian government authorizes a specific transaction.
Due to an increase in financial scams involving forex brokers, the Indian government was forced to severely restrict the way Indian citizens can operate in the forex market. If you live in India, you are not legally allowed to trade forex currency pairs that do not have the Indian rupee as the base currency or counter-currency.
You can still open an account with a foreign-based broker as long as you send your deposit through an electronic wallet service such as PayPal, Neteller, or other similar online payments service. Avoid using a wire transfer from a bank or other financial institution based in India or a credit or debit card issued by an Indian entity to fund a forex trading account.
What to Look for in a Forex Broker
Despite the general lack of ordinary online forex brokers based in India, other than three stock exchanges, you can still trade forex through foreign-based online brokers. Generally, a quality brokerage will have the following 11 elements:
Oversight by a reputable financial regulator
Excellent reputation among forex traders
Allows you to trade in the type of account you prefer
Requires an affordable minimum deposit
Gives you trading access to all major and minor forex currency pairs and other assets
Has a maximum leverage ratio appropriate for your trading strategy and risk tolerance
Offers competitive dealing spreads
Provides clients with insurance against negative balances
Keeps re-quotes and slippage on orders to a minimum
Maintains client funds in segregated accounts
Withdrawal and deposit options fit your needs
Another essential factor to consider when choosing a forex broker is platform and trading software. In addition to their proprietary trading platform, many brokers offer cTrader, NinjaTrader, and the very popular MetaTrader 4 and 5 platforms from MetaQuotes that both support automated trading.
The Best Forex Brokers that Accept Indian Clients
If you’re from India and you’re looking for a reliable online forex broker, the list below offers some excellent options located outside of India but regulated by reputable financial authorities.
Though these brokers don’t have a physical presence in India, they accept clients from India who make deposits using payment services and electronic wallets. The best forex broker that accepts clients from India depends in large part on your unique situation and your particular needs as a trader.
FOREX.com ranks as the number one U.S. forex broker by client assets. Regulated by the U.S. National Futures Association (NFA) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), FOREX.com is also registered and has oversight from regulators in the U.K., Australia, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Cayman Islands.
Accounts at FOREX.com require a minimum deposit of $250 USD. The broker lets you trade micro lots if your preference is to start with smaller amounts. FOREX.com also offers an Islamic account option in addition to keeping client accounts segregated from its own funds. FOREX.com offers the MetaTrader 4 and 5 platforms from MetaQuotes and NinjaTrader.
FXCM, established in 1999, has offices in the U.K., South Africa and Australia. This broker has oversight from the U.K.’s FCA, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the South African Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).
FXCM requires a minimum deposit of only $50 USD. The broker offers clients the option to trade in micro lots for traders who want to trade smaller amounts. Also, FXCM keeps client accounts segregated from its own funds.
eToro’s social trading platform has provided forex products and more to their retail clients for over 11 years. They boast over 10 million account holders worldwide; eToro creates a trading community for their users to be a part of.
Their most popular forex trading features include CopyTrader, CopyPortfolios, and the Social News Feed.
CopyTrader and CopyPortfolio give you the ability to locate a successful trader and copy their strategy. You are given the ability to copy 100 traders, as this feature is easy to set up and access.
With the Social News Feed, you get access to a Twitter-like feed to trader updates. Traders discuss everything from markets, their strategies, and are able to get alerts based on certain market factors.
easyMarkets gives traders the power of MetaTrader 4 to invest in forex. Their unique features of Freeze Rate, Insider Viewer, DealCancellation, and easyTrade allow them to stand out among the competition.
Freeze Rate allows traders to freeze live rates for a moment to open and close trades. Insider Viewer allows you to see what other traders are doing.
You can undo losing trades within 60 minutes with DealCancellation, and easyTrade lets you set your minimum trading risk that will never be surpassed.
With easyMarkets, there is no commission on trades but there is fixed dealing on spreads.
Based in Cyprus and with offices in the U.K., the UAE and South Africa, HotForex is regulated by the FCA in the U.K., CySEC in Cyprus, the FSCA in South Africa and the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) in the UAE.
HotForex offers India residents the ability to trade spot metals, forex currency pairs, CFDs on commodities, stock indexes and high capitalization stocks such as Alphabet (GOOGL), Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Facebook (FB).
Trading forex anywhere can be risky, but that seems especially true in India for those unfamiliar with the country’s legal restrictions on currency transactions. If you live in India and want to trade the Indian rupee exclusively against USD, GBP, JPY or EUR, then you can legally purchase through one of the three SEBI-regulated Indian stock exchanges that act as forex brokers.
It’s against the law to use an account from a bank or other India-based financial institution to fund a trading account and make forex market transactions in currency pairs that do not include the INR. If you still wish to trade non-INR currency pairs, then you must make a margin deposit to a foreign broker by transferring funds from an electronic payment service such as PayPal or Neteller.