alb.com in brief

The alb.com website is operated by ALB Limited, which is authorized and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) to provide investment services. ALB defines itself as a leading online trading provider that uses the Market Execution model where positions can be closed partially and hedged. Traders can realize the most sophisticated trading strategies with low latency and high-speed order execution on the Equinix LD4 and NY4 located servers, the company claims. Customers can trade CFDs on currency pairs, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies, and shares via several of widely used trading terminals – MetaTrader 4 (MT4), MetaTrader 5 (MT5) and cTrader. Each customer will receive a personal account manager and professional third-party trading reports and education. The minimum deposit size is USD200.

Regulation

The regulation of the brokerage company is one of the important things you should check before opening an account with it. ALB Limited is authorized and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) as a Category 3 license holder with number IS/ 79767. All client funds deposited with ALB are fully segregated from the company’s own funds and are kept in separate bank accounts. This means that money belonging to clients cannot be used for any other purpose. ALB Limited is a member of the Investor Compensation Scheme (ICS). ICS is a fund for customers of bankrupt investment intermediaries licensed by MFSA. ALB can provide brokerage services in European Economic Area under MiFID II (EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive).

Account Types

We could not find any information about the account types. Moreover, in the FAQ section ALB states that the minimum deposit amount is USD200; therefore, we assume there is only one type of live account. However, the forex trading conditions section presents Basic, Silver, Gold, and VIP spreads for all currency pairs, which suggests different account types. Probably, you should clarify trading conditions with the company before deciding to open any type of account. The only thing ALB mentions is that you can trade currency pairs with low latency execution either on an ultra-tight raw spread account or real ECN account and that you will be charged a commission per lot traded.

In a separate note the company warns that trading behavior of scalping (when the purpose of the trade is only a tentative to take advantage of an IT latency time or a technological inefficiency) is considered as a breach of the company’s Terms and Conditions. ALM may at its sole discretion to immediately terminate the client account closing any trades, which formed any part of scalping behavior.

Market Maker or STP Brokerage?

The Order Execution Policy document states that the company may act as a riskless principal or may deal with its clients on own account.

As a riskless principal, the company interposes itself between the buyer and the seller to the transaction in such a way that ALB never gets exposed to market risk throughout the execution of the transaction, with both sides executed simultaneously. The transaction is concluded at a price where the company makes no profit or loss, other than a commission, fee, or charge for the transaction. The company would deal as principal with its client and at the same time, and on the same terms, enter into a transaction as a principal with a counterparty.

ALB may also deal as principal with the client – executing the order against the company’s proprietary capital. The company may choose to act as market maker in instruments by quoting prices at which it is prepared to deal with the client. ALB explains what the market maker is: “Market maker” means a person (Company or individual) who is active on the financial markets on a continuous basis as being willing to deal on own account by buying and selling financial instruments against his proprietary capital at prices defined by him.

In other words, the company may use the Straight Through Processing (STP) model to execute client orders, but it may also act as a market maker on its sole discretion. When customer orders are transmitted for execution, there is no major conflict of interest, through the Straight Through Processing (STP) model, but when the company executes orders, it keeps the risk to itself. In this case, the conflict of interest exists and any loss to customers is a gain for the company.

The company warns that slippage may occur when trading in CFDs. This is the situation when at the time that an order is presented for execution, the specific price shown to the client may not be available; therefore the order will be executed close to or a number of pips away from the requested price. It is noted that slippage is a normal element when trading in financial instruments and often occurs during periods of low liquidity or higher volatility. In other words, client orders may not be executed at the declared price. ALB also warns that all types of orders are subject to slippage including stop loss orders and they will be filled at the first available market price.  This means that stop loss orders are not guaranteed.

The company claims that it operates an Automated Margin Stop Out System designed to prevent any client from falling into a negative balance. ALB protects retail clients so as to ensure that their maximum losses from trading CFDs, including all related costs are limited to the funds that are in the retail client’s CFD trading account. In other words, all retail clients are covered by the Negative Balance Protection and they cannot lose more than the total amount of their account.

Fees

There is no inactivity fee, so you can define the time frame in which you want to trade. Of course, there are common fees such as spread, swap, rollover, and commission (in some instruments).

Deposits and Withdrawals

Customers can use two methods to deposit funds – by bank transfer and by credit cards. Any funds to be deposited should only be sent by the client himself and not by any third party. The company does not charge any processing fees on deposits, but intermediary banks may charge such fees.

Withdrawals should be made using the same method applied by the client to fund his trading account and to the same remitter. All withdrawal requests are processed within the same business day or on the following business day.

Trading Platforms

You can trade via three of the most used terminals worldwide – MetaTrader 4 (MT4), MetaTrader 5 (MT5), and cTrader.

MetaTrader 4 is the world’s most popular trading terminal. It gives power to every type of trader in the market. Thanks to its simple and intuitive structure, customers can trade, analyze, and manage risk and exposure at the same time. MT4 provides a wide range of management tools, advanced charts, many indicators, and technical analysis tools. In addition, MT4 also features algorithmic programming for automatic trading using the so-called expert advisors (EAs).

ALB defines the MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platform as the ideal multi asset terminal. With MT5 you can open up to 100 charts and use more than 80 built-in technical indicators. An economic calendar and real-time financial news are available as well. The platform supports timeframes from one minute to one month. MT5 introduces more order options and an integrated trading book.

MetaTrader platform is available as a desktop version for Windows and MAC machines, and as a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

cTrader is a leading multi-asset trading platform that offers many charting tools, advanced order types, market depts quotes (Level II) and faster order execution. The intuitive user interface is connected to sophisticated backend technology. cTrader can be run on both PC and mobile devices, as well as in all modern browsers. In addition, you can build your own application using cTrader’s Open API.

Assets

Forex – More than 100 major, minor, and exotic currency pairs can be traded. The average spread for the EUR/USD pair is within 0.7-1.5 pips.

Indices – You can trade 12 global indices (US, European and Asian), such as DJIA, S&P500, FTSE100, DAX30 etc. There is a commission of EUR10 per standard contract for closed position.

Commodities – 8 of the most traded commodities are available such as Copper, Corn and Coffee. In addition, 5 energy products are also available including Oil, Brent, and Natural Gas. We should note that Gold and Silver are included in the currency pairs asset class. There is a commission of EUR10 per standard contract for closed position.

Shares – 40 CFDs on global shares are available for trading such as Microsoft and UniCredit. There is a commission of EUR10 per standard contract for closed position.

Cryptocurrencies – 5 of most traded cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum etc. There is a commission of EUR10 per standard contract for closed position.

Data Centers

ALB’s trade servers are in London – Equinix LD4 and New York – Equinix NY4, where over 200 different exchanges, Tier-1 banks and ECNs are co-located. Equinix provides a neutral data center and the company is the leading global colocation data center provider. The low latency network offered by the Equinix ensures sub-millisecond communication and reduces the possibility of slippage.

Summary

ALB is a European brokerage company, which has a MFSA regulation. It can use the STP model when transmitting orders but also can act as a market maker. When it is a market maker, the main conflict of interest exists. You can trade currency pairs, cryptocurrencies, commodities, shares and indices through a set of trading terminals. Deposits and withdrawals are limited to two methods only but if you use a credit card, that will not be a problem. It is not clear what types of accounts you can open with the required minimum of USD200.

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