Unlike a stock market, the foreign exchange market is divided into levels of access. At the top is the interbank market, which is made up of the largest commercial banks and securities dealers.
The foreign exchange market works through financial institutions, and it operates on several levels. Behind the scenes banks turn to a smaller number of financial firms known as “dealers,” who are actively involved in large quantities of foreign exchange trading. Most foreign exchange dealers are banks, so this behind-the-scenes market is sometimes called the “interbank market”. Trades between foreign exchange dealers can be very large, involving hundreds of millions of dollars.
Individual retail speculative traders constitute a growing segment of this market with the advent of retail foreign exchange trading, both in size and importance.There are two main types of retail FX brokers offering the opportunity for speculative currency trading: brokers and dealers or market makers. Brokers serve as an agent of the customer in the broader FX market, by seeking the best price in the market for a retail order and dealing on behalf of the retail customer. They charge a commission or mark-up in addition to the price obtained in the market. Dealers or market makers, by contrast, typically act as principal in the transaction versus the retail customer, and quote a price they are willing to deal at.