ECN technology first appeared in 1999 and has been actively conquering the financial services market ever since. More and more ECN brokers and companies offering ECN accounts began to appear. But let's figure out how this transaction execution system differs from others, what advantages and disadvantages it has, and whether all traders really need to choose ECN accounts for Forex trading.What is the difference between an ECN broker?First of all, it is worth clarifying that ECN is not some special category of brokerage companies. In fact, an ECN broker is a broker that uses the ECN order execution system in its work.And in order to understand how this system differs from others, we suggest considering the most common systems on the market.DD brokersThere are two sides to trading in any market: the seller and the buyer. A broker, as a rule, is an intermediary, a way to enter the market and make transactions with the seller directly. If we talk about Forex trading, the broker must provide direct access to liquidity providers. But this is not about dealing centers. DD (Dealing Desk) brokers are counterparties that set their own quotes, above or below the market, and also offer a fixed spread. Such brokers are also called market makers, that is, companies that "make the market". The advantage of such a broker is the low size of the minimum deposit, the disadvantage is the lack of direct contact with liquidity providers and freezing of orders.Read more: What is Forex and how it worksNDD brokersThe non-Dealing Desk is the complete opposite of dealing centers. This order execution system in translation means "without the participation of a broker", that is, the broker does not interfere in the trading process and cannot influence quotes, the size of spreads and other factors. The NDD broker provides clients with access to the interbank market, that is, traders trade directly with liquidity providers. The task of an NDD broker is to bring transactions to the market, and the company's earnings are based on the commission that traders pay for placing transactions.STP brokersThis type of broker belongs to the NDD system: the company does not participate in transactions, does not affect the size of quotations and does not set its own rules. The STP broker trades using a computer system. The system transfers orders to the interbank market, that is, transactions are carried out without the intervention of a broker, and customers receive direct access to liquidity providers.ECN brokersFormally, such companies have a huge similarity with STP: they also belong to the group of NDD brokers, and often companies indicate that they are NDD + ECN. The broker does not interfere in the trading process in the same way, traders get access to market quotes, and transactions are brought to the interbank level. However, unlike STP, which uses a fully automated program to withdraw transactions, ECN broker cooperates with a network of international banks and other liquidity providers directly, and its trading platform is linked to them. This allows you to ensure the highest possible speed of execution of orders and also guarantees their accuracy.Read more: The history of the origin of the Forex marketWhat is an ECN accountActually, some brokers offer ECN accounts to clients, which allow them to take advantage of all the advantages of ECN order execution, namely, direct access to liquidity providers and fast execution of transactions.Novice traders need to be careful: brokers often position themselves as NDD + ECN brokers or offer ECN accounts separately. This means that the ECN system will be available only on this account, and on others, a different way of executing transactions is used. Also, beginners should take into account that ECN accounts often have a higher minimum deposit level. Therefore, brokers who offer an ECN system and at the same time set a low deposit need to be carefully checked.How to choose an ECN broker for Forex tradingIt would seem that what could be simpler? It is enough just to find a company that offers ECN accounts. But not everything is so simple. In order for cooperation with a broker to be reliable and long-term, and work to be comfortable, when choosing a company, you should pay attention to the following criteria:Trading platformThe most common Forex trading terminals are MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. However, some brokers create their own platforms that differ in both interface and functionality. Therefore, when choosing an ECN broker, professionals are advised to proceed from personal preferences and take into account whether the necessary instruments are available in their own broker platforms. Novice traders are recommended to choose brokers with MT4 and MT5 platforms. It's not just that their functionality is enough for both beginners and professionals. There are a lot of video and text materials on how to work on these terminals, while brokers' own platforms often remain without "instructions".InstrumentsTo trade with an ECN broker, it is advisable to choose instruments with sufficiently high volatility. They give traders the opportunity to earn higher earnings, provided that they use the ECN system. Instruments with high volatility include currency pairs (Forex), cryptocurrencies, CFDs and commodity futures. It is not necessary to use all these instruments, but it is desirable that the broker provides them.Read more: What is a Leverage in ForexLeverageECN accounts often have low leverage, up to 1:100. Only a trader can determine which leverage to choose based on his trading skills. Beginners are recommended to set leverage of 1:1, professional traders choose higher leverage, up to 1:100. In any case, it is worth remembering that leverage multiplies the amount of profit, but the higher it is, the greater the losses will be in case of an unsuccessful transaction.Minimum transaction volumeIt is impossible to trade micro lots (0.01 lots) on ECN accounts, the minimum lot is 0.1, and this is another reason why it is not recommended to open such accounts for users with zero trading experience.RegulationThis point is relevant regardless of which broker the trader wants to cooperate with: stock, Forex or any other. When choosing a company, you should definitely pay attention to regulations. If a broker is under the supervision of one or more regulatory authorities and has a license to provide financial services, then you can safely cooperate with him. Regulators ensure that the broker fulfils its obligations to the client, and a license is issued only if the broker meets international or local requirements. Checking the regulation, the trader initially weeds out all the "kitchens" — the companies of scammers. It is worth paying attention to the year of the company's opening and the site: "kitchens" do not bother with the interface, make the site simple and little informative, and they exist for no more than a year. Therefore, preference should be given to brokers who have been on the market for a long time.Liquidity providersAn important factor that will allow you to distinguish a real ECN broker from a Forex kitchen. When choosing a company for trading, it is necessary to check which liquidity providers it cooperates with. Reliable brokers, as a rule, cooperate with global suppliers. If information about suppliers is not available on the site, and the support service responds with the message "this is confidential information", then most likely this broker has nothing to do with the ECN system.Read more: What is margin trading: pros, cons and risksSoftwareThe success of trading depends on the quality and speed of the software, or rather, the correct execution of orders. Therefore, a trader, regardless of the type of trading strategy, should pay attention to the operation of the terminal. It is important that the program does not hang, does not crash, and does not give an error or requotes. This is especially important when choosing an ECN broker, because the ECN system is characterized by instant execution of transactions, and software problems only hinder this.Minimum depositIt's worth starting with the fact that brokers with ECN accounts initially set a higher minimum deposit level. It is a rare case when the price of opening an ECN account is available to all users. The high threshold of the minimum deposit is one of the main reasons why it is not recommended to open such accounts for novice traders: a beginner will easily lose the entire deposit and will be left with nothing since he has no experience in trading. Therefore, if you are a novice trader, think carefully about whether you really need an ECN Forex Broker. If yes, then choose companies in which the minimum deposit is relatively low, since the risk of losing all capital is quite high.These criteria are basic, both experienced traders and beginners can use such a checklist when choosing an ECN broker. To make it easier for traders to navigate, we have collected ECN brokers in the rating, where the minimum deposit amount and regulatory authorities of each of the companies are indicated.Professionals should start from individual needs and wishes.When should I open an ECN account?There is no doubt about the popularity of ECN brokers: they are preferred by thousands of traders from all over the world. But let's see if such companies can really be called universal, or if there are cases when it is unprofitable to open an ECN account.First of all, an ECN broker makes it possible to trade with liquidity providers directly. The trader does not depend on the broker, on quotes within the company or on other nuances. The broker is simply an intermediary. This means that the trader will get access to real market data. And this condition is beneficial to all traders.At the same time, ECN brokers offer a floating spread. This condition makes trading more difficult and unpredictable because a novice trader will not be able to assess the market situation and understand when it is better to open a deal so that the commission is lower. Also, this condition is not suitable for clients who are actively investing with conservative risks, because it will not be possible to calculate the exact amount of the commission, its size is constantly changing.Read more: I got a margin call: we explain what it is and how to avoid itDo not forget about the high-speed execution of transactions. This condition seems attractive, but in fact, it is not suitable for all traders. High speed is an important criterion when it comes to scalping. Traders with such a strategy really need to cooperate with ECN brokers, because the profitability of their work depends on the accuracy of order execution. Novice traders simply will not be able to take advantage of ECN technology.It is necessary to take into account the instruments with which the trader works. When trading cryptocurrencies, currency pairs and other assets with high volatility, the speed of transaction execution matters. But if a trader chooses to trade instruments with medium or low volatility, then the speed of work does not play such an important role, because the price of an asset simply will not have time to change in one or two seconds.So, if the speed of execution of transactions is important to a trader and he works with highly volatile instruments, then it is definitely worth opening an ECN account. In other cases, it is necessary to build on the trading strategy and the client's requirements for trading conditions.Is an ECN account suitable for beginners?Novice traders and investors, when choosing the first broker, often pay attention to absolutely all criteria in order to eventually choose the best of the best. This strategy can be understood because most traders want to choose a company for long-term cooperation, but there are criteria that are not so important for beginners. These include the availability of ECN technology.This system really has a number of advantages over dealing centers, and many novice traders are captivated by it. But it cannot be said that the presence of ECN accounts is a mandatory criterion and when choosing the first company for trading, you should pay attention only to ECN brokers. An analogy with cars would be appropriate here: to learn how to drive, it is not necessary to buy a Lexus or a sports car. Yes, they will surpass some Opel in terms of characteristics, but their functionality is redundant for a novice driver. To get basic driving skills, it's enough to start with driving an Opel.Exactly the same principle works with ECN accounts: a novice trader can open them, but it is not necessary to do it at the very beginning when there is no experience in trading yet. After all, a beginner, having gained experience, can always change the type of account or broker.Read more: Who are Market Makers and what are they doing on the market?Advantages of ECN technologyECN brokers appeared not so long ago, in 1999, but over these 20 years, they have become popular both among professional market participants and among those who are just taking the first steps in trading. We can talk about the advantages of ECN brokers for a long time, but we suggest first highlighting three main advantages:Fast execution of transactions.No requotes.Low spreads.Often these three factors are enough for a trader to pay attention to companies with ECN technology when choosing a broker. However, these are not the only reasons why it is worth choosing ECN brokers to work in the Forex market.It is equally important to understand how the broker earns. For example, the main difference between ECN companies is that their earnings consist exclusively of spreads - the commission that the trader pays for the execution of the transaction. That is, the broker is not interested in clients "draining" their deposit.Also, ECN brokers do not participate in transactions. The company does not influence the trading process, does not set its own quotation indicators that would be beneficial to it, etc. There is no human factor in ECN technology, so customers get access to real market conditions, and the trader's transaction gets to the counterparty who currently has the most favorable quotes.As we have already said, ECN brokers cooperate with the world's largest liquidity providers, therefore, the level of liquidity of instruments in such companies is very high. There is no option that a trader will buy an asset, and after a while will not be able to sell it. In addition, ECN companies, as a rule, provide services at the international level and assume a large trade turnover, so you can trade with them at any time of the day.Another advantage of ECN brokers as intermediaries between the market and the trader is the absence of restrictions. What does it mean? The ECN company is not involved in the trading process, and traders' trading strategies are not displayed in any way on the broker's earnings, so cooperation with the ECN company assumes that a trader can use any trading strategy, as well as a variety of instruments. ECN brokers often allow the use of Expert Advisors and other software to automate the workflow in trading.Separately, we need to talk about the high speed of execution of transactions. This factor becomes key if a trader is looking for a broker for scalping. And ECN brokers in this case become unequivocal favorites, because the trader, in addition to being able to use a scalping strategy, gets the highest possible transaction processing speed and access to instruments with good liquidity indicators.Read more: Features of intraday trading on the Forex marketDisadvantages of ECN technologyWhen choosing a broker, it is important not only to pay attention to its advantages but also to know exactly what disadvantages it has. ECN accounts are no exception, because, despite many positive aspects, they also have a number of disadvantages. These include:A high level of minimum depositECN brokers are often chosen by those traders who already have extensive experience in trading and who have built a trading strategy. They understand that ECN technology provides many advantages, and are willing to pay for them. Moreover, ECN brokers do not set the most affordable minimum deposit for traders.Difficulties in tradingIt is not so easy to make transactions using ECN technology. In order to trade and make a profit, a trader needs to understand the principles of ECN, as well as navigate the market, be able to respond to trends and sharp price changes, take into account the news release and analyze the market situation as a whole. Technical analysis instruments can help with this, but they will not replace your own trading experience. Therefore, novice traders are advised to choose the demo version of an ECN account in order to gain experience and not risk their money, and only then proceed to real trading.Read more: ECN Forex account: what is it?CommissionYes, ECN brokers earn income from spreads, but they can also include a separate, fixed commission per lot in the price list. At the same time, spreads are floating, their size depends on the market, and it is impossible to calculate exactly how much you need to pay the broker for the execution of the transaction. At the same time, it is definitely impossible to say that a floating spread is a disadvantage. Professional traders know how to use this factor for their own good and reduce the size of commissions, but it will be quite difficult for a beginner to deal with it. After all, spreads can both narrow and expand in certain market conditions.Whether to open an ECN account or not is not a rhetorical question at all. To understand if there is a need for it, it is enough to define your trading strategy and understand what conditions are important to you in order to achieve maximum efficiency in working on the Forex market.