Ease of Use
Variety of Tools
MetaTrader is one of the most, if not the most popular Forex Trading Platform in the world, it is mostly used by Forex Traders, however, MetaTrader platform can be used to work with any market and allows trading of Futures, CFDs, Indices, Cryptocurrencies, and any other tradable asset for that matter.
History of MetaTrader
MetaTrader Trading Terminal as we know it nowadays has been created in the year 2003, however, the story of its creation begins much earlier. The story of MetaTrader begins in the year 2000, when MetaQuotes (MetaQuotes Software Corp.) was established and released ‘FX Charts’ Software. ‘FX Charts’ was a charting software which nowadays appears abundantly simple, but back then it has caused quite a commotion and got a lot of interest from the public, due to its availability to retail traders.
High public interest for ‘FX Charts’ caused MetaQuotes team to release a new, highly functional trading platform under its own brand name – MetaQuotes just within a month of their initial software launch. But most importantly besides having a lot of additional functionality, the main feature which attracted tens of thousands of new users, was a built-in language for programming (MQL), which allowed manual programming of trading strategies.
Three years after initial software release, in summer of 2003, MetaQuotes released a brand new, built from ground up, filled with even more functionality – MetaTrader Trading Platform. At the same time MetaTrader started gaining immense popularity among Forex Brokers all over the world, overtaking more and more of the Forex Trading Platform Market share. At the same time, with the release of MetaTrader Trading Platform, MetaQuotes released an improved version of MetaQuotes Language – MQL II.
MetaQuotes have always been ahead of the competition when it came to Trading Platform innovations, hence, in the end of year 2003, MetaQuotes released the very first mobile trading terminal ‘MetaTrader 3 CE’ and ‘MetaTrader for Palm’ which was followed by another update to MetaQuotes Programming Language – MQL3.
MetaTrader 4 (MT4)
In the end of 2004 MetaQuotes made an announcement about release of brand new MetaTrader 4 Trading Terminal, the release was planned for summer of 2005, and as promised ‘MetaTrader 4’ was released to the public right on schedule on the 1st of July 2005.
MetaTrader 4 allowed ‘Data Center’ connectivity, which is was a huge improvement to the stability and security of the platform, reduced load on the server and made DDOS attacks on the platform almost obsolete. At the same time MetaQuotes Language got a very serious update. MetaQuotes Language 4 (MQL 4) which allowed to create trading robots, scripts, technical indicators, and function libraries for ‘MetaTrader 4’.
MetaTrader 4 is available for Windows, Android, iOS, and VM emulation on Linux and macOS below Catalina.
MetaTrader 5 (MT5)
Five years after releasing one of the most widely used and most prominent Forex Trading Platform, MetaQuotes released a new version of a Trading Platform – MetaTrader 5, same time MetaQuotes released MetaQuotes Language 5 (MQL5), which yet again brought a lot of major updates to the core of MQL programming. Unfortunately MetaTrader 5 is not backward compatible with custom-made tools written in MQL4, which is why even until this day a lot of Traders and Brokers are sticking to MT4.
MetaTrader 5 is available for Windows, Android, iOS, and VM emulation on Linux and macOS below Catalina.
A full introduction to MetaTrader 5 is available on MetaQuotes official YouTube Channel.
Thanks to ability to program customers indicators, robots, scripts and libraries, MetaTrader is the most feature-rich Forex Trading Platforms in the world. Out of the box MetaTrader comes preloaded with a wide variety of analytical tools, allowing for full-scale technical analysis and full automatisation of every aspect of one’s trading. Each trading instrument can be displayed in several different timeframes, MetaTrader 4 allows 9 time-frames, whereas MetaTrader 5 allows 21 different timeframe for any chart.
MetaTrader comes with several dozens of built-in technical indicators, as well as graphical objects, to ease and improve the process of technical analysis, entry and exit point determination, and allowing for a very thorough analysis of price action. Further in this article, we will review the most important components of MetaTrader in greater detail.
As we have mentioned earlier, based on the MetaTrader version, it will come wither with 9 or 21 different time frames and an ability to draw various objects on any chart, as well as place an enormous amount of different indicators on the chart, as well as in separate windows.
MetaTrader is one of the platforms which allows you to fully automate trader’s chart reading and analysis process. Nowadays there are hundreds of tools which allow a very deep, real-time analysis of any chart in MetaTrader.
Many brokers nowadays hire MQL programmers to build pattern recognition software for their MetaTrader platforms. Two of well known brokers with additions to their MetaTrader Trading Terminals are Admiral Markets and Swissquote.
Expert Advisors or simply EAs – are trading robots or automated trading systems, which can be written in MetaQuotes Language (MQL) for MetaTrader, in order to automate the trading process, analysis, and many other actions otherwise done manually.
Expert Advisors became an integral component of hundreds of thousands of traders, brokers and companies in business which employs MetaTrader in any way. Expert Advisors became essential not just due to assistance with analysis or trading automation, but because EAs can take over any important function and add enormous amount of functionality to the Trading Platform.
All MetaTrader versions allow creation of custom EAs, although, unlike MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 has an ‘MQL5 Wizard’ built-in, it allows creation of EAs without having any coding skills or even looking ‘under the hood’. Of course traders will not be able to create very sophisticated EAs with a Wizard Tool, but ‘MQL5 Wizard’ is good enough to allow creation of an Expert Advisor of slightly above average complexity.
Detailed explanation of MQL5 Wizard is available on MQL5 official website.
Official MetaQuotes site is one of the biggest databases of custom-coded EAs for MetaTrader.
Overlooked Features of EAs
Expert Advisors are more than tools simple tools for automation, we will mention just couple of most popular methods for EA utilisation.
Trade Copying – MetaTrader EAs are often used by Fund Managers (Asset Managers) and Signal providers to copy-trade. Most of copy-trade EAs come in a paid – one EA is a ‘Master’, and its counterpart – a ‘Slave’, which receives instructions from the ‘Master’ EA and performs those actions on the platform where it is initiated. There are also some EAs which have been programmed to receive data from a specific server, rather than another EA, quite often a trader might have a very sophisticated software run on a remote server and send instructions to several EAs, which will be acting according to the instructions received from the server.
Risk Management – using EAs for risk management has been gaining popularity not only amongst traders, but also asset management companies, investment funds, and any institution or person, who require safeguards for any particular trading account. Risk Management involves notifications when certain conditions are met, e.g. too much equity is used or major news release is coming up, EAs can also force hard stops, by closing all open positions is something happens. And of course there are Risk Management EAs which hedge trader’s positions based on price movement and portfolio or ‘bucket’ sentiment.
Real-Time Data Scraping and Monitoring – this can be used for various purposes, sometimes brokers might be pulling price feed from one-another, other times someone might wan to display current trades on a website or in an app.
MetaTrader indicators are analytical tools which are usually deployed as an overlay on the chart or next to it. Indicators are usually used to define market sentiment, what is the situation with supply and demand, and help identify or confirm support and resistance zones. Of course, aforementioned functions are not all the available features of MetaTrader Indicators, especially since just like Expert Advisors, Indicators can be custom-made by anyone, however those are the main features.
Furthermore, MetaTrader allows overlaying indicators – there is no limit how many indicators can appear on the chart, one placed over the other, and at the same time no limit to how many indicators can overlap each-other in separate window. Below is a simple example of indicator overlay:
Overlaying indicators is useful in case of trading systems which require trader to use a lot of indicators at once, especially same indicator with multiple settings.
Biggest collection of MetaTrader 4 Indicators
Biggest collection of MetaTrader 5 Indicators
MetaTrader Scripts are a sequence of actions or one action, which is triggered only when the script is activated. Traders can bind scripts to button combinations or simply drag and drop scripts on the chart, where a certain action or a set of thereof has to be performed.
Originally scripts were very simple action triggers, such as generating trading reports, clearing charts, removing all objects or indicators from charts, changing timeframe of all charts, or close multiple positions with one trigger. Nowadays however, MetaTrader Scripts are way more advance and their functionality is only limited by the programmer’s imagination.
Here are few of the top-rated script samples, which are freely available for download from MQL’s official website:
Libraries are components with specific functionality, which can be easily added into an Indicator or an Expert Advisor. Libraries are used to simplify code-writing as well as increase speed of production.
Here is an example of a simple library, which allows to identify whether a broker is using 4 or 5 digits
Of course not all the libraries have just few lines of code, some libraries can be as complex as a full-scale program.
News and Alerts
MetaTrader has an integrated news feed, it is relatively minimal and doesn’t usually have a lot of data about any specific event, but it can still be beneficial for some users. Users who wish to have access a good news feed are better off by downloading an Economical Calendar Indicator for their Trading platform and adding it to the chart.
Alerts! MetaTrader Alerts are nothing special, but a very useful and often overlooked feature available in the platform by default. MetaTrader allows setting up alerts for specific values of Bid or Ask price, e.g. when price reaches a certain level MetaTrader will notify the trader. Alerts are available in few different ways – sound alert, email notification, push notification on a mobile device, or a text-message. Alerts in MetaTrader can come in very handy, but – alerts will only work while the computer with the terminal and alert is running.
Signals are one of the most interesting parts of MetaTrader – MetaTrader signals allow anyone to automatically copy trades and orders from a ‘Signal Provider’. MetaQuotes has Signals marketplace on their website, where any trader can become a Signal Provider and anyone else can subscribe and copy the Signal.
At this moment there is over 4,000 Signals for MetaTrader 4 and more than 500 Signals available to copy for MetaTrader 5. All signals are easily accessible via MQL5 official website,as well as in the Signals section of MetaTrader Platform.
MetaQuotes does a great job providing all the necessary information to evaluate any Signal before subscribing to it. In addition to detailed information about each Signal subscribers can review statistics, risk analysis, as well as read reviews from other users, and even check average slippage between Signal Provider’s broker and various other brokers.
Video Tutorial ‘How to setup signals in MetaTrader’
MetaTrader Mobile Trading
MetaTrader was the first mobile Forex trading platform – ‘MetaTrader 3 CE’ and ‘MetaTrader Palm’, nowadays it is available natively on WIndows, Android and iOS – Windows Mobile and Palm versions were discontinued. And MetaTrader is available with the use of Virtual Machines on Linux (Wine) and Mac (Parallels).
Many brokers provide access to MetaTrader Web Trader – an online trading platform with the same interface as MetaTrader desktop, but slightly more restrictive functionality. Web Trader does now allow usage of custom-built tools, but otherwise it works exactly the same as a desktop application.
Web Trader is not a free add-on for brokers, brokers are required to pay 500 USD every month in order to be able to provide Web Trader for their clients. Even though 500 USD it is a very little amount for an average Forex broker, due to lack of demand for Web Trading most brokers do not want to spend any money on software which will not be utilised.
Reliability of MetaTrader
Since MetaTrader 4 was rolled out, it is safe to say that platform is quite reliable from the broker’s side it is not too prone to malicious attacks. MetaTrader encrypts all sensible data which is being sent to the trading server for identity validation purposes.
Because MetaTrader allows custom Expert Advisors, it is important for traders to be very careful when using 3rd party EAs – some MetaTrader EAs might share some sensible data with others or even act maliciously on your machine.
MetaTrader for Brokers
MetaQuotes offers very good solution for Brokers that wish to have MetaTrader as their Platform of choice, MetaTrader comes with two additional platforms – ‘MetaTrader Admin’ and ‘MetaTrader Manager’, both tools are used to manage the trading side of the business. There are more tools that are being used with MetaTrader, but we will only cover 3 of the most important ones, third one being a Virtual Dealer Plugin.
The ‘Manager’ is usually used by employees with above average access level and responsibilities, primarily those employees who might need to be able to review internal (MT4) information about individual traders, and be able to modify it. MetaTrader Manager allows creating Trading Accounts in certain ‘Trading Groups’ – on Live and Demo servers, perform ledger operations, such as adding and removing funds, and change some minor account settings, including passwords (passwords are not visible for the staff via Manager).
In other words, MetaTrader Manager is used for Trader and Risk Management, as well as Back-Office and Dealing desk control.
The ‘Admin’ platform is, as the name suggests — the most advanced and important tool in broker’s arsenal which is used to manage the trading server and everything related to it. MetaTrader Admin access is usually granted only to couple of people within the company – Product Owner / General Manager and their superiors, often not even all superiors will have access to Admin Platform.
MetaTrader Admin platform allows changing every single aspect of trading, most commonly used features are: creation of trading groups (different account types), modification of orders (correction of fills), adjustment of markups (increase/decrease spreads and/or commissions) and making changes to swap rates (when interest rates change). Of course functionality of ‘MetaTrader Admin’ goes far mentioned functions, but other functions are not very relevant to this review.
MetaTrader Virtual Dealer Plugin
This is one of the most interesting tools which is used by most MetaTrader brokers – this tool is not provided by the MetaQuotes, but rather purchased from a third party company, which develops tools and plugins for MetaTrader platform. Virtual Dealer Plugin can be considered a risk management tool, because it helps brokers eliminate certain risks. For example, during certain events a chosen group of people can be switched from market trading to a sand-box (from A-book to B-book). More often Virtual Dealer Plugins are used to create artificial slippage during opening and/or closing of the trade, more often both ways than one.
MetaTrader 4 and 5 Licensing
As of 2019 MetaQuotes is no longer providing new MetaTrader 4 licenses to any brokers, because for almost 10 years MetaTrader 4 has ruled the market, but MetaTrader 5 remained in the shade and nobody wanted to switch over due to high licensing fees and lack of backward compatibility.
License for MetaTrader 4 used to cost a broker 100,000.00 USD, besides the fee brokers had to pay monthly fees to MetaQuotes, fees had to be paid for Desktop Platform support ~1,500 USD, Mobile Platform Support ~1,000 USD, Web Platform Support ~500 USD. Any broker that was willing to add MetaTrader 5 as their platform had to pay the same license fee and all the applicable monthly fees.
Nowadays MetaQuotes has slightly changed their licensing process of MetaTrader 5, to ease the financial burden off the brokers and coerce everybody to switch from MT4 to MT5.
Apparently based on the active client base of a broker the fees will vary, however as it is evident from the picture, Web and Mobile terminals are still “optional”, hence, are to be paid monthly as add-ons on any plan.
Detailed information about licensing is available at MetaTrader 5 official site.
Conclusions For MetaTrader
No doubt that MetaTrader will remain one of the most popular Forex Trading Platforms in 2020, but due to issues with tools compatibility between MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5, and discontinuation of MT4 technical support, it might be one of the last years for MetaTrader as the most popular Forex Trading Platform. Moreover MetaQuotes haven’t developed anything as revolutionary as they used to in many years now, their competition on the other hand – has.
- Ability to program own tools – EAs, Indicators and Scripts.
- Very simple to learn and has intuitive interface.
- Platform is cross-platform.
- Multi-Lingual – MetaTrader is localised to over 20 languages.
- Has builtin Back-Testing Functionality & Automated Optimisation.
- Only MetaQuotes can make changes and fix issues.
- MetaTrader 4 support has been discontinued leaving less MT4 Brokers.
- Lack of backwards compatibility for custom tools between MT5 and MT4.
- Faulty EA or Indicator can cause permanent corruption of Platform requiring reinstallation.