cTrader and MetaTrader 4/5 are the two most popular trading platforms available to forex market players. How do they differ, what are their strengths? Does any deserve to be called a leader?
MetaTrader – produced by MetaQuotes – is the world’s most known trading platform for investing in the forex market. Currently, it has 2 variants: the older and more widespread among traders – MetaTrader 4, and newer, more modern – MetaTrader 5. MetaTrader 4/5 platforms have an established position on the market, which is why they are most often chosen by forex investors. cTrader – the flagship product of the Spotware company – was developed almost 10 years ago but still doesn’t have as many followers as MetaTrader platforms. Although it is not as common as MetaTrader, more and more recognized brokers – as, for example, Pepperstone and IC Markets decided to include it in their offer. It has become especially popular among brokers wanting to attract more experienced traders by offering them more advanced trading tools.
At first glance, you can see significant differences in the user interface of both MetaTrader and cTrader platforms. MT4 with its raw layout focuses on simplicity and an extensive system of Expert Advisor bots which has become invaluable support for traders. However, MT5 differs a lot from its predecessor and alike cTrader platform is more flexible and has higher capacity. On the other hand, the cTrader platform outstands both MetaTrader platforms with its clean modern design and greater interface editing capabilities (many indicators and different timeframes), more advanced ordering and market depth options (which aren’t even available at MT4).
What then makes MT4 – the oldest and less capable platform – still the most popular platform among traders? That’s the EA bots mentioned before. Every platform has its own bots programmed in a specific language MQL4 or MQL5. On the Internet, there are a lot of ready-made solutions written in MQL4 language, which any novice trader can use to copy signals and replicate the strategy of experienced users. Yet, MT4 is neither developed nor supported by MetaQuotes anymore so sooner or later it will have to give its way to newer platforms.
Desktop, Web and Mobile
Another big difference between MetaTrader and cTrader is the type of their platforms. MetaTrader 4 and 5 were built as applications – both desktop and mobile – and they need to be downloaded and installed on users’ computers. Whereas cTrader was originally designed as a web platform, and as such is easily accessible from every browser. Also, both platforms’ mobile apps differ significantly. MetaTrader offers only one basic application where a trader needs to choose his broker from the list while the cTrader mobile app is assigned to a given broker. cTrader has also addressed the needs of the users of different operating systems and prepared a desktop app for Mac.
Platform customization options
The platforms are sold in the White Label model and they all allow moderate customization such as adapting the outlook of the platform to the brokers’ needs (adjustment of settings, functions and layout). MetaTrader additionally allows connecting custom made plugins and supporting applications. It is a very convenient solution for beginner brokers who plan to start their own forex business and want to build their brand based on a very stable and recognized technology. Every extension added to cTrader has to be developed by Spotware’s team and the broker can only report the need for an additional feature.
As for the possibilities of automatic trading, MetaTrader (especially MT4) is the undisputed leader in terms of functionality and available trading tools. It offers the function of Expert Advisors – trading bots that are fully customizable, and thanks to the support of a very active online community, also easy to use even without programming skills. cTrader offers the equivalent of EA in cAlgo form, but due to the limited online community of cAlgo users – there is a very limited amount of ready-made robots (cBots). The popularity of EA is best demonstrated by the online tools created to “translate” MQL into c# – the programming language used by cTrader bots.
Another aspect important from the point of view of traders is the order book view. Access to the market depth view allows for understanding the instrument’s liquidity and conduct transactions at accurate prices. In this matter, cTrader definitely dominates by offering three depth assessment options: standard, price and VWAP, which is very useful especially for traders using pending orders.
cTrader – main advantages for users
- Market trends preview
- cTrader offers three modes of the charts: Multi-Chart, Single Chart, and Free Chart, which are very useful to get different views of market trends.
- Market Depth
- cTrader provides the opportunity to accurately assess the depth of the market in 3 different variants: Standard, Price and VWAP. Thanks to this, the investor can accurately track the liquidity of the market and place pending orders at precisely planned prices.
- Indicators and time intervals
- the platform offers a wide range of indicators very useful for analyzing market data (moving averages, MACD, Bollinger etc.) and the possibility of setting different time intervals (classic 1/5/15 minutes, 6-minute, 20-minute and many more )
- Algorithmic Trading
- cTrader offers its algorithmic trading tool in the form of integrated cAlgo (cBots) similar to the famous EA available in MT4. It allows programming robots to carry out automated trading operations, creating indicators, strategy optimization and backtesting. The tool works in C # and .NET Framework.
MetaTrader – main advantages for users
- Expert Advisors
- MetaTrader enables performing algorithmic transactions with the help of Expert Advisors (EA). They can be personally configured and perform commercial operations on behalf of users. EAs are especially useful for novice traders who want to use strategies that are created by experienced investors.
- Thanks to the huge popularity, the platform is available in many languages, which is very convenient for users around the globe who can benefit from trading in their native language.
- Simple and popular
- MetaTrader platforms are very intuitive and easy to use, especially for inexperienced traders, they’re more recognizable and more accessible on the market. This makes it easier for the broker to gain customers but at the same time, they must expect bigger competition.
In practice, the differences between the platforms are not as important as they might seem and the choice depends on individual preferences. MT5 and cTrader offer advanced features and excellent performance, while MT4… well, it’s a classic one.
Every broker while deciding which platform to choose while starting a brokerage business should decide what kind of traders he wants to attract. In the case of novice traders, both MetaTrader and cTrader will satisfy all their needs. Giving easier access to MetaTrader, a richer offer of automated strategies and trading robots, this platform will be a better choice for those investors who are largely working on automated strategies. In turn, cTrader will be an ideal platform for investors who use the scalping strategy and place pending orders intensively using the market depth preview.