There has been a lot news recently over banks using option trades to speculate on commodities, so I decided to look into some of the companies that specialize in offering option trading out there. I found a company that offered exactly what I was looking for called Banc de Swiss.
Banc de Swiss is a web-based online trading platform that offers both novice and expert traders easy access to the enticing world of the financial options markets. I tested the Banc de Swiss site to research the ins and outs of their services.
BdS offers its clients what are called binary options. Binary options are a potentially lucrative method of trading that is relatively simple to understand and work with. In essence, the trader has to determine whether an asset will rise or fall in value over a specified amount of time. If your option completes in your favor, you will see a return; if it does not, you may still retain a small portion of your investment.
Banc de Swiss was developed initially for German speakers, so it comes as no surprise that the default language on the site is German. Fortunately for a mono-glot like me, they have a link to the English version of the site at the top of the page. The English language version is translated well enough that I could navigate the site without encountering any language problems.
The process for opening an account with BdS is simple, no complex forms to fill out, interviews to complete, or long wait-times before you can start trading. Click on ‘Open Account’ to register your details and you will receive a customary welcome email to your inbox (Yes, you know the drill). You are then ready to deposit funds into your account and start trading. Banc de Swiss accepts deposits using Visa and Mastercard, by bank wire transfer, and the online payment service Moneybookers. The minimum deposit to start trading is only €100, which is a pretty reasonable amount to start with to test their system out for yourself. The guys at Bank de Swiss claim that you can open an account and be trading in ’58 seconds’. With their simplified account application process and their flexible payment options, I could see that being a potentially valid claim for you fast typers.
The trading page is clearly laid out and is designed in such a way that even a novice can quickly understand the essentials. You are initially presented with the top trading picks: in my case, they were the prices of oil, Apple Inc. and the Nasdaq. Alternatively, you can concentrate on commodities, currencies, indices or stocks by clicking on the relevant tabs. There is a live news ticker from Reuters runs across the screen to keep you up to date with the latest market prices, while a news feed at the bottom right-hand corner of the page keeps you current with the latest financial news from Yahoo Finance.
To start trading, you simply choose an asset and then decide whether to invest your money on the price going up, the “call” option, or going down, the “put” option. The remaining time in which to place the option is displayed next to the graph, as well as the designated payout for the trade. It’s that easy.
There are alternative trading methods too. The Option Builder is a flexible system for traders with a little more experience. It allows you to customize the parameters of each trade; namely the duration of the option and the ratio of profit to loss that you are willing to trade at. If, for example, you expected the price of silver to rise after three hours, but wanted to minimize your risk by insuring yourself at 30% in the event of an unsuccessful trade with a 55% return on a successful trade, you would use the Option Builder.
One feature I found helpful on the site was the “One Touch” option which offers a price level for an asset. You can then decide whether you believe the asset will ‘touch’ that price at some point during the week. The options are purchased over the weekend and expire by the following Friday (Check the site for exact expiration times for your time zone). This method of trading offers higher rewards, but requires a more detailed knowledge of the market.
The “60 Sec” option is a rapid trade option based on whether an asset will increase or decrease in value after one minute. There is also a “Pro Trader” option that gives you even more flexibility to manage your trades by allowing you to increase your investment before the option time expires.
Although I had no need to contact them myself, Banc de Swiss does offer a variety of customer support options. You can call their service line, send them an email or communicate through Skype. They also offer a chat service 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a comprehensive FAQ section.
Overall, I was impressed by the concept and mechanics of the site. It was easy to start an account and the trading process was straightforward with clear explanations for non-expert traders.
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