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On September 24, 2022, it was announced that Apple has terminated its listing of MetaQuotes’ trading applications - both MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. At the time of writing, both MetaTrader apps are still available on the Google Play Store. In this article we will not be focusing on the story of the ban itself, but rather analyzing the most plausible reasons for it and forecast a few potential scenarios for the brokers implementing these platforms.
Most of the things that are currently happening within the online trading space has already been happening to the iGaming sector (aka online casinos and sports betting) for some time now. Both Google and Apple have a history of removing gambling and betting apps from their app markets. Back in 2018, Google also banned binary options trading apps from its Play store.
However, when looking at the Apple Store right now, we can see an abundance of betting applications available for download.
What this means is that the current ban is probably temporary rather than permanent.
Apple is likely to ask MetaQuotes to adhere to some of their guidelines in order to assure that the user experience remains safe from fraud (more about this in the next section), and will then allow their applications back on its listings.
Everyone knows that the FX trading sector is full of scammers and fraudsters, with numerous scam call centers operating out of Cyprus, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Moldova, and many other places. From these call centers criminals have been fraudulently operating Forex related scams for years now. In Georgia alone (3.7M population) there were over 100 of these call centers operating simultaneously, and despite a heavy local police embargo, there are still some that are operating in the shadows right now. It should come as no surprise that a big chunk of these call centers were using their own branded version of a white-label MetaTrader 4.
Now, when taking a look at the MetaTrader 4 app on Google Play, we can clearly see that the software has been downloaded over 10 million times and is rated 4.4 stars.
I would assume similar download counts and ratings were seen on the Apple Store before the ban. This is quite logical, since the users are rating the platform, its features, capabilities, stability etc. However, it is important to note that the MT4 mobile app can be offered by both legitimate brokers and fraudsters alike. In other words:
There is no way to correlate the legitimacy of the app with the legitimacy of the brokerage.
Hence, a likely fix to Apple’s MT4 and MT5 delisting would be to enable a certain connection between the MetaTrader instance and the brokerage that is responsible for the software, e.g. XM MetaTrader 4 Mobile. This way, a direct responsibility is shifted towards the broker offering the software rather than spread out between all the brokers offering MT4 or MT5 mobile apps to their clients.
By implementing this kind of connection, Apple will also make sure that the apps are only available for download in the countries where the broker is licensed to operate legally.
It goes without saying that the importance of mobile traffic and mobile trading cannot be underestimated in 2022. When looking at the statistics of FX broker websites, we can see that mobile traffic accounts for some 55-75% of their total traffic. Now, with MT4 and MT5 being removed from the Apple Store, a significant part of the brokers can no longer offer a trading platform to a large share of their potential customers.
At the same time, brokers that have proprietary trading solutions (e.g. eToro, Plus500) experience no interruptions at all. Brokers like Pepperstone that have integrated trading software from multiple vendors (e.g. MetaQuotes, Spotware, Saxo) are at least capable of offering a worthy alternative to its customers.
MetaQuotes has been notorious for restraining its customers from adopting other trading platforms.
Now, it might actually be a great opportunity for brokers to finally negotiate from a stronger position and integrate additional trading platforms, so ending MetaQuotes’ dominance over the retail FX trading industry.
This can be a worthy alternative to MetaQuotes. Similar to the iGaming sector, where mobile casino and betting apps are heavily regulated, the demand for providing services in the gray area still exists. While iGaming operators cannot supply their platforms officially via Apple Store or Google Play, the iGaming software developers have managed to deliver mobile friendly gambling platforms in the form of regular websites.
WebTrader from MetaQuotes exists, but it needs some serious improvements.
When users can get a decent trading experience directly in their browsers, the need for having a dedicated app becomes nearly non-existent. This can be the perfect opportunity for MetaQuotes to push out a hot fix and tune up its web trading platform to make up for having its software delisted from the Apple Store.
Whether the MetaTrader 4 ban is permanent or temporary, I still feel that it is for the better.
Ideally, MetaQuotes fixes whatever Apple requests to be fixed and (I hope) delivers a safer trading environment by eliminating all of the scammy whitelabels. This way, retail FX simply gains a better reputation. Alternatively, MetaQuotes’ trading apps remain banned from the Apple Store, and perhaps soon even from Google Play too, and this way brokers will be forced to adopt more advanced and more appealing trading software like cTrader. This would bring in a better sense of competition to the retail FX sector, and hopefully more innovation will follow.
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