Currencies are traded on the Foreign Exchange market, also known as Forex. This is a decentralized market that spans the globe and is considered the largest by trading volume and the most liquid worldwide. Exchange rates fluctuate continuously due to the ever changing market forces of supply and demand. Forex traders buy a currency pair if they think the exchange rate will rise and sell it if they think the opposite will happen. The Forex market remains open around the world for 24 hours a day with the exception of weekends.
When you trade forex, you're effectively borrowing the first currency in the pair to buy or sell the second currency. With a US$5-trillion-a-day market, the liquidity is so deep that liquidity providers—the big banks, basically—allow you to trade with leverage. To trade with leverage, you simply set aside the required margin for your trade size. If you're trading 200:1 leverage, for example, you can trade $2,000 in the market while only setting aside $10 in margin in your trading account. For 50:1 leverage, the same trade size would still only require about £40 in margin. This gives you much more exposure, while keeping your capital investment down.
For retail clients, leverages of up to 1:30 for currency pairs and 1:20 for indices are available. For professional clients, a maximum leverage of up to 1:500 is available for currency pairs, indices, energies and precious metals. Both retail and professional status come with their own unique benefits and trade-offs, so it's a good idea to investigate them fully before trading. Find out today if you're eligible for professional terms, so you can maximise your trading potential, and keep your leverage where you want it to be!