In addition to different types of options, there is also the matter of different types of platforms that said options can be traded on. This section is designed to help you understand what these platforms are as well as the things that can be usually expected of one in the course of online trading.
We understand things might be getting a bit overwhelming at this point, especially to those who had never had to deal with financial markets, so we will try to keep things as simple as straightforward as possible. Hopefully, once you have finished reading this section as well as the rest of our guide, you will be fully prepared to take on any challenge options market can throw at you.
Online Trading Platforms
Of course, the bulk of trading is done via personal computers and laptops. All you really need is a simple computer, an internet connection and some free time. Most platforms are fully online and require no downloading or installations of any kind. As for the type of operating system, most platforms do not discriminate against users who for some reason choose an OS that is not Windows. Mac users should have no difficulties operating these platforms, although most of them were clearly not meant specifically for Mac users and it can really show at times. Still, the disadvantage should be barely noticeable at worst.
Also, most brokers feature demo accounts which are identical to their actual trading platforms, in an effort to bring their prospective clients an experience that is as close to the real deal as humanly possible. We will cover this subject more extensively in one of the other sections, though.
As for the number of trading accounts, most users are limited to one per broker, meaning you can only have one active account with any given broker. If you want a second one, you will need to find a second broker and so on.
Online safety is also given a priority, considering online trading platforms pose a juicy target for the undesirables, and their frequency of people visiting can turn this into a potential nightmare. Overall, most online trading platforms do not lag behind large online banks, and there are also regulations on this matter that increase the safety of your funds. So, overall, your funds should be as safe and secure as they would have been in any major bank.
Also, many platforms feature integrated link to customer support in case of an emergency. Most brokers also have their own support centers staffed around the clock and who can be reached via a number of different means, including telephone, email and live chat to name just a few. Customers with concerns and question may direct them at any time and expect an answer in a timely manner.
Mobile Trading Platforms
Lately, there has been a trend where more and more people prefer to trade on the go, and in order to facilitate this, most brokers have developed their own platforms for mobile devices. This way, you can trade on your Smartphone or iPhone wherever you are, same as if you were at your computer desk. Aside from the fact they are being accessed via a different device, mobile platforms usually feature the same interface and elements as their “fixed” counterparts. In other words, any trade you could make on your computer, you can make on your Smartphone as well, provided you install the right app. It is a hassle, but there is a price for convenience.
And don’t worry about bonuses, promotions and the like! All of them are available regardless of the device you are using. However, it still counts as a single account, so if you were planning to double up on that welcome bonus, think again. Most brokers even require you to sign up online before allowing you to activate your mobile account. The usernames and passwords are shared as you are seen as the same user and these accounts do not count as separate in any meaningful way.
Of course, having a power outage on your computer while trading is essentially the same as having your battery go flat in the middle of a trade. If you’ve managed to enter it on time, great. If not, then it does not count. Having said that, most brokers keep a detailed record of your past trades for backtracking purposes and you could also use it to analyze your performance.
Finally, there is the issue of security. While it is relatively unlikely that your PC might get stolen, losing your mobile phone is a far more likely prospect. This means you need to take measures to protect your profile from the undesirables. Not storing any of the passwords would be a good idea. Sure, it is a pain having to type them in over and over and over again, but at least it will keep your records safe in the worst case scenario.
Also, hacking into your phone is a lot easier than breaching the security on your computer. For one, the safety on your phone is much more lax, especially if you are using a Smartphone with an older version of the OS. Buying an iPhone may seem like a safer bet, although it remains to be seen if the added security is worth the added cost.