The currency market, or more specifically the forex market, derives its name from the generic term foreign exchange market. The forex market is a decentralized global network of trading partners, including banks, public and private institutions, retail dealers, speculators, and central banks involved in the business of buying and selling money.
The forex is a spot market, which means that it trades at the current market price as determined by supply and demand within the marketplace. This differs from currency futures traded on the commodity exchange in the United States,which trades a contract price for delivery in the future. In the spot market you are trading cash for cash at the current market price.
The forex is the largest, fastest-growing financial marketplace in the world. Every trading day the forex market handles a transaction volume of nearly $3.2 trillion, according to a survey done by the Triennial Central Bank in 2007. To put that figure in perspective, the average daily volume on the forex market is nearly 20 times larger than on the New York Stock Exchange.
The need for foreign exchange is driven by travelers, multinational corporations, and governments. Tourists from the United States need euros for their European vacations; corporations such as Microsoft exchange profits made overseas into U.S. dollars. Government hold reserve currencies and manipulate the money supply while they implement their monetary policies. The forex market was created to facilitate the sale of currency to customers who intend to take delivery of the currency; however, the vast majority of trading is done by speculators seeking nothing more than profit.