Binary Options, an investigation

Back in mid 2011, the FMA of Austria released a warning about a number of Binary Options providers on their website. As FMA is member of MiFID this warning should be taken seriously by everyone who is a resident of the European Union. They noted that a number of Binary Options website had been involved in high profile marketing of binary options, while these are financial instruments none of the websites involved where regulated. The FMA recommend before engaging in any business with firms that you check them against the list of regulated institutions in your country. Check the warning out here.

The state of Binary Options is particularly unusual with the industry being largely unregulated at the moment. This is due to the fact that nothing has been done to regulate the industry with several MiFID members stating that Binary Options are not financial instruments. They state that binary options are rather a form of gambling and do not fall under their jurisdiction, this for instance is the position that CySec has taken. The problem with this is that Binary Options are often not recognized as a form of gambling meaning that Binary options fall through the regulatory net. Obviously this is particularly worrying as it leaves many placing their hard earned money at risk without receiving the proper regulatory oversight that they deserve. 

Today, I aim to take a look at the current state of the industry and see if any improvements have been made from the regulatory point of view. To achieve this I’m going to check up on all the sites that were mentioned in the original warning from the FMA and see if anything has changed. Hopefully a number of the major players will have sought either gambling or financial regulation, but I highly doubt this to have happened. 


First on the list is the binary options provider IkkoTrader. After a while surfing the IkkoTrader website I am unable to find any mention of any sort of regulation. While there is an admission that Binary Options are a financial product there is no mention about the need for regulation, gambling or otherwise. I was unable to determine the location of IkkoTrader but many of the website pages were served to me in France. All in all, I feel its safe to say that IkkoTrader is an unregulated operator.

One of the higher profile companies on the list OptionFair is widely advertised across the internet. In the terms and conditions on the website it is mentioned that the company is based in Cyprus, possibly a move made on purpose due to the stance that CySec have taken on Binary Options. Again the terms and conditions on the website mentioned the undertaking of financial contracts. The OptionFair website is more professional than IkkoTrader’s website, though again I feel that OptionFair remains a completely unregulated entity. For those who want to do more research on Option Fair should check out the parent companies of OptionFair; Mika Holdings, Inc. BVI and AGONI ENTERPRISES LTD. of Cyprus.

Next on the list is OptionBit. Here I started by checking out the FAQ’s which does address the question of the security of your funds but answers no questions regarding OptionBit. Next I moved on to examine their terms and conditions to check for references to any regulatory body or organisation. Here, I found nothing regarding the regulation of the company and its operations, also rather worryingly there was no mention regarding who the agreement was made with. While there were no glaring holes in these terms and conditions, I would still have to say that OptionBit is yet another site that still remains thoroughly unregulated. 
Another what appears to Cyprus based company TraderXp again features no mention of regulation. Could this be another company based in Cyprus as they feel the territory offers them a safe haven from the threat of regulation? Possibly. While there is no mention of regulation, the legal disclaimer does make reference to the fact that the prices may not reflect current market prices. All of this leads me to strongly suspect that TraderXp is yet another unregulated outfit. 

24Option is run by the company Yamay Investments Limited a registered company in Cyprus. However I was unable to find any listing showing that this investment company was regulated by CySec. However is this unsurprising considering the various statements that CySec has made concerning, the regulation of Binary Options. No mention of regulation or oversight in the FAQ’s though there is talk about the companies pedigree. Again I suspect that operates without regulation. – No longer offers Binary Options and instead redirects to a site about Binary Options, which also appears to rely on affiliate income. 
UFXBank – No longer exists, the company has no become UFXMarkets and offers CFD’s and is currently regulated by CySec. 
WinOptions is operated by WinOptions Ltd. again the site makes no mention of being regulated. Though there is a warning notice stating that they will no accept users from the United States, I would imagine this is due to the fact that Binary Options are regulated the securities commission in the US. If you read the contract closely enough it will become apparent that WinOptions is operated from the British Virgin Islands. This again leads me to conclude that it is highly unlikely that WinOptions is regulated in anyway.  

Directs to a Polish sever and features an exact copy of the terms and conditions found on some of the other Binary Options providers. Again there is no mention of any regulation or oversight in the FAQ’s and I get the feeling that ExcitingMarkets is in fact ran by one of the other providers but is primarily marketed towards people living in Poland. Again I believe that Exciting Markets is an unregulated operation. 
MarketPunter no longer pursues European customers and instead has targeted itself towards the Australian marketplace, where it has become a regulated entity.  
All in all, you can see that many of the websites that were operating a year ago are still in operation and most probably remain totally unregulated. While this doesn’t imply that the websites are engaged in any kind of illicit behavior, one should be aware that dealing with these providers puts them at significant risk. 



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