What is the MT4 trading platform?
MT4 is short for MetaTrader4. The MT4 platform is the most popular solution for retail forex brokers looking for a turnkey platform, developed by MetaQuotes Software Corp. Forex brokers customise the MT4 platform according to their branding requirements and thereafter offer it to their clients.
As just mentioned, the MT4 serves the retail (individual, non-professional) end of the market, however it still provides powerful features to allow retail investors to effectively begin forex trading.
The MT4 is the 4th in the MetaTrader series designed by MetaQuotes Inc, since the launch of the first MetaTrader platform in the late 90s. The MT4 is considered a revolutionary product because of the quantum leap the platform took in terms of features and performance when compared to its predecessor.
The MT4 was later upgraded to the MT5, but due to the massive popularity of the MT4 platform, the MT5 never really took off in the market and MetaQuotes Inc was forced to do a re-design which combined many features of the MT5 with the old MT4 to create a brand new MT4 Build platform, starting from Build 600 which was launched in 2011.
The popularity of the MT4 platform has forced many brokerages which were operating with proprietary platforms to include the MT4 to the list of forex platforms they offered their clients. The MT4 is arguably the most popular forex trading platform in the retail forex market today with over 750 banks and brokers offering the platform.
BrokerNotes Top MT4 Forex Broker
As one of the most established and popular trading platforms, the MT4 is a top choice for traders looking for a powerful forex trading platform. With over 750 institutions offering the MT4 platform, the search for the right broker for you can be a difficult task.
In our comparison table, we have narrowed down the list to the top 5 brokers that offer the MT4 platform, regulated and are the most popular choices for retail traders.
The most popular choice for BrokerNotes visitors is the Financial Conduct Authority regulated and AA rated ETX Capital. They are part the Monecor (London) Ltd group who are listed on the London Stock Exchange so you can be confident about their financial status and transparency.
Why ETX Capital is a popular MT4 forex broker:
- Established broker – over 10 years in business (in business since 2002)
- Regulated by the Financial conduct authority (UK) #124721
- Tight spreads
- Offers Forex, Spread betting, CFDs, Binary, Equities, Commodities and Indices
- Wide range of markets
Basic Overview on How to Use the MT4 Platform
The MT4 is unique in the sense that it is not simply a trading platform.
It comes with components that enable traders to perform various functions such as:
- Live, real-money trading.
- Virtual/practice/demo trading.
- Strategy testing and optimisation.
- Programming of expert advisors, indicators and scripts.
- Historical studies.
- Charting analysis.
- Sales of MT4 add-ons.
The MT4 is a solid trading engine which many traders have under-utilised over the years. The power of the MT4 is showcased when all these functions are put to use.
- a) Real Money Trading:
The MT4 is used to trade currencies, spot metals, indices and blue-chip stocks. The major product traded on the MT4 is forex. Currencies are listed in pairs and close to 100 currency pairs are offered for trade on a typical MT4 platform. Successful trading of whatever financial assets are listed on the MT4 platform requires skill and knowledge of profitably trade techniques. Fortunately, the MT4 has all you need to make this happen. You simply need to know how to unlock the secrets.
- b) Demo Trading:
Demo trading refers to the practice of using virtual money to trade forex. The MT4 allows you to open a demo account of any amount of your choice, starting from $500 and all the way up. If you are doing this for the first time, you have to download the MT4 platform from a broker’s website and once the program is downloaded, you can setup the account by filling your details in the pop-up box.
- c) Programming of EAs and Indicators:
You can program EAs and indicators from the MT4 platform’s programming interface. By clicking the F4 button on your computer, the MetaQuotes Language (MQL) interface opens in a new window, allowing a programmer to create brand new expert advisors (forex robots), indicators and scripts. You can also modify existing ones, provided you have the appropriate permissions to do so and the EA is not locked. It is also possible to use DLL protection to lock your EAs and prevent them from being decompiled (i.e. hacked).
Testing and optimisation of any programmed robots can also be done on the MT4. You can do this by clicking Ctrl + R on your computer, or by clicking View -> Strategy Tester. Strategy testing requires historical data from the M1 time frame and this is also available via the History Centre on MT4. Only professionals who know how to test strategies can perform this function accurately.
The MT4 features charts for all assets traded on the platform. You can add line tools, indicators and other add-ons to the charts to perform technical analysis. The charts feature three methods of price representation:
- -Bar charts
- -Line charts
- -Candlestick charts (the most popular method)
Other methods of price representation such as the Renko charts are usually custom-made. Candlesticks are very popular because they show at a glance the open, high, low and closing prices for a time frame. Charts are very important components of trading because they enable the trader perform technical analysis.
Sales of MT4 Add-ons
The MQL Community was launched by MetaQuotes Inc as a response to the yearnings of the millions of MT4 users all over the world, as a one-stop shop for all tools, indicators, scripts and add-ons for the MT4 platform. It is now possible to purchase or even sell your add-on software on the MQL Community website.
This website is integrated with the MT4 platform so that traders wishing to buy a strategy, indicator or forex robot can actually do so from the MT4 platform using the “Market” tab in the Terminal window.
It is also possible to subscribe to trading signals using the “Signals” window and to read about new strategies on the MQL Community website using the CodeBase tab.
Payments for products on the MQL Community can be made from your trading account balance, as the MT4 seamlessly integrates with the MQL Community website.
Features of the MT4
What makes up the MT4 platform, and what are the features?
MAIN MENU BAR:
This is where various shortcut functions of the MT4 are located. You can open a new chart, place a new order, activate/deactivate a forex robot and select the charts from here. Simply use your mouse to go over each button to find out its name and function.
This is where the price quote for each listed asset on the MT4 is displayed.
This is where the charts are displayed. The time frame for each chart can be adjusted using the relevant button on the main menu bar above it (where you have the M1, M5, M15, M30, H1, H4, D1, W1 AND M1 displayed).
This displays the tabs that give out several MT4 displays such as the account capital (the margin), how much has been committed to a trade (used margin), the margin exposure, open positions, closed positions, the account history, news bar, etc.
Provides a short cut to call up indicators, EAs, show trading account number, etc.
Desktop vs Browser vs Mobile Versions of the MT4
With the advent of the smartphone and tablet devices, it became necessary for traders to keep up with technology. These new hand-held devices were as good as mini-computers, capable of most functions of desktops. Brokers went to work and came up with different versions of the MT4 platform.
Today, the MT4 now has a web-based version and a mobile version. With the web-based (browser) versions, traders no longer need to download the bulky desktop client. All they need is the URL which connects to the server on which the web-based trading platform is hosted.
This enables trading from anywhere without carrying along your physical computer. Browser versions are also supported for display on smartphones and tablet devices.
The mobile versions are an advancement of the web-based platforms.
Available as apps that can be downloaded from the respective app stores, the mobile versions of the MT4 come with a condensed set of features that allows just the most basic aspects of trading such as order placement, basic technical analysis and basic charting.
Instruments You Can Trade on MT4
What are the instruments or assets which can be traded on MT4? Virtually all asset classes are now represented on the MT4 platform. You can see what your broker offers for trading by either clicking Ctrl + U, or by clicking on “View” in the top navigation bar, followed by “Symbols” (click View -> Symbols).
You can trade:
- a) Currencies
Currencies traded on the MT4 are divided into major pairs, minor pairs and exotic pairs.
A limited offering of stocks are found on the MT4. These are usually blue-chip stocks such as those of Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Coca-Cola, Tesla, etc.
c) Stock Indices
The major stock indices are also listed on the MT4. Stock indices are assets that measure the performance of the national stock exchanges across the world. Therefore, you have the following indices:
- Japan: Nikkei 225 or JPN225
- US Dow Jones: US30 or Wall Street 30
- Australia: AUS 200
- US: S&P500, listed as SPX500
- UK: London FTSE100, listed as UK100
- Germany: DAX, or GER30
- Switzerland: SMI30
- France: CAC40 or France 40
The exact instruments will differ from one broker to another but you can trade most of the main traded financial assets with all the MT4 providers.