CFD Broker Payment Methods Explained

Popular & Emerging Payment Methods In CFD Trading
Article Summary, Main Article & Broker List
TL;DR Summary: Traditional and alternative approaches for depositing to a CFD trading account

Traders focus on features offered by CFD providers such as the platform, types of trading such as automated trading and speed of processing. An important part of CFD trading are the payment providers. These allow the trader to add liquidity, by transferring money from their external account to their trading account. Without depositing, the trader cannot trade on a live account. This article examines the payment process in detail and looks at some popular payment providers and emerging payment provider technology. There is a series of image infographics to help explain these complex processes, but which are a key part of the trading experience.

there are different categories of payment providers

Once the trader has opened a live CFD trading account, they need to fund it to be able to trade. The way to do this is with a payment method via a payment provider, which results in the balance of the trading account being updated. A payment provider allows the trader to transfer between their accounts and the CFD provider, using a payment method. Some CFD providers offer a wider range than others, however there is typically a core group of payment providers. Payment providers offer convenience and safety when transferring money into and from a live trading account. Payment providers can have different characteristics and this will be explored in this article. As well as established methods, there are also emerging payment provider technologies which may be utilised by CFD providers.

What is it that payment providers do?

Payment providers execute a series of processes to get funds credited from a trader's account to their live CFD trading account. When a trader initiates a transaction to send from within their account, the provider will authorize the transaction (including checking for sufficient funds), then inititates what is called capture, which requests the movement of funds from the trader's account to their CFD account. These data transfers are typically performed via APIs and involve the use of encryption to safeguard the data being moved back and forth, as well as fraud detection and regulatory compliance.

After capture, the payment provider will take care of the clearing process which allows the funds to be settled into the providers bank account and thence as a credit in the trader's trading account. It must be noted that this is the process used by payment providers which integrate with the traditional finance system, as this article will explore, there are other ways to send money. However using a payment provider accessing the traditional financial system via APIs offers security and reliability. What it may not offer is the widest flexibility.

Alternative systems: the blockchain

The blockchain is decentralised, thus payment processes have differences from those using the traditional centralised payment system. A key part of this processes is the hashing of the transaction itself, which is then encrypted using the private key of the sender. Hashing is a process whereby data is processed via a hashing function to create a representation of the data, but which will significantly change if the underlying hashed data is altered in any way. This is different from authorization in payment processing as it allows for a decentralised process. In essence the sender can send data which the receiver can then check to see that it is exactly as sent. Thus it cuts out the authorization process whereby a third party has to verify the transaction from sender to recipient.

The blockchain itself is a system which allows this encrypted transaction data to be sent from the sender's wallet to the recipient's wallet. Thus the process of capture is also removed. There is no need for a third party to initiate the process. It can be initiated by the sender and the blockchain will send it (i.e. it is peer-to-peer). And will is the correct sense, as it is a purely automated process and in general once initiated transactions cannot be reversed (unlike in traditional payment systems), but this does not mean that all transactions are guaranteed to reach their destination. If you send crypto on its blockchain, either it will reach destination or it will get stuck or it will fail because it was sent on the wrong blockchain or the destination wallet is incorrectly specified. Which is to say, it will generally not fail because a third party interrupts it.

The blockchain itself operates as an autonomous system. It uses different mechanisms to enable movement across the blockchain. For example Proof-Of-Work blockchains use miners to process transactions. Miners are disinterested competing third parties who add transactions to the blockchain by processing blocks of data, for a reward. So a transaction may get stuck if miners decide not to process it.

There are differing reasons why a miner may not process a transaction, however there are many miners with different motivations, thus the system itself has a redundancy built in such that even of a miner ignores a transaction, then others may well pick it up, and are incentivized to do so. In general the way to avoid a stuck transaction is to make sure that sufficient transaction fees have paid (as these are used to compensate miners and motivate them to process). However this does point to a difference in reliability between traditional processing and blockchain processing.

The blockchain has a potential advantage in that the time taken to send is a function of the speed of the blockchain and its processes. Some blockchains are designed to operate at high speed, some at lower and variable speeds. There can be a trade off in terms of decentralisation to increase processing speeds. However sending a transaction from wallet A to wallet B no matter where these wallets are located may be done in less than half an hour on major blockchains. This is because the data is sent across the internet and moves at the speed of these signals while the processing activity is also electronic in nature, so it can be fast (but there are potential bottlenecks such as network congestion and precessing delays). The ledger is actually stored on the blockchain, so there is no movement of crypto from wallet A to wallet B, rather a ledger is updated which is reflected in the balance in the wallet, in this sense miners act as part of the book keeping process.

Cryptos do not have a real-world existence (despite their token images), they are simply electronic data (a crypto does not have an id of any kind, but they do have an electronic signatures as transaction data). Those who process transactions are motivated to process them as quickly as possible and what these processors are doing is altering electronic data (adding blocks of processed transactions to the blockchain). Because speed depends on the processing, in times of high use, both transaction fees and time taken to process can increase.

Traditional payment processing may have a fee associated with it, but these are typically much more static than blockchain fees, which can update rapidly and are normally given as a range rather than the actual fee, which is not known until it is processed. This can be seen as another factor in terms of relative reliability of the traditional system. All this said, some traditional methods can be very fast and some slower, so why the difference ? TLDR: It's all matter of optimising processes on the mainstream financial system's banking backbone.

Different types of payment methods illustrated and succinctly explained

The speed of mainstream payment processing

The main payment methods for CFD providers are credit cards, bank transfer and e-wallets. There can be quite significant difference in the speed of these methods. The fastest tends to be credit/debit cards. These are fast because they are designed to be near instantaneous, hence why you can use a credit card at a POS terminal. The reason they are so quick is because the credit card system performs a series of rapid checks on a transaction using high speed processing methods (e.g. data centers) and then guarantees the transfer. Thus unlike the blockchain, the payment may not be authorised, if for example there are insufficient funds (although this is built into blockchain transfer as the crypto needs to be there in a wallet to send).

The actual settlement of funds from the trader's account takes longer and this can be seen in transaction reports, such that a transaction has not settled yet, even though the money has been apparently received by the destination account. The money itself that appears in the trader's account before settlement is typically from working capital or some immediate pool of funds. The process may be slowed by the CFD provider themselves performing checks. So this guarantee allied with centralised processing systems is a way around the time taken by the system to move money and it is one of the pillars of the financial system with regard to transactions.

This is a trust-based system, which can be contrasted with a trustless system (not requiring and using trust to operate) as utilised by the blockchain for example. A trust-based system can be defined broadly as one which requires trust to move across a network connecting the initiating node to the end node. Trust can include trust to send the funds (like a credit card), trust in accuracy maintained from node to node and trust in the security in the transfer process.

The revolution of the blockchain is that it allows a near equivalent (but technologically different) transfer process but without trust except in the sense that there is trust on the system. This said, highly centralised transfer systems with optimised systems can be extremely fast, very reliable and very secure. As we have seen in other areas more directly related to trading, at the core of the credit card system are specialised high speed data centers to allow for billions of transactions to be handled efficiently at scale - and allowing for near instantaneous fulfillment. Decentralised systems are harder to optimise and scale this way. Though at the cost of some centralisation (and the localisation of trust), some blockchains can transfer extremely quickly and at low cost (for example Level 2 blockchains operating on the Ethereum mainnet, Ripple or Stellar).

A bank transfer can take much longer and this is because it relies on the full application of the systems involved in moving money - in this case the money is not credited until it has completed the stages involved in sending it from the trader's bank account to the destination account. A bank transfer is not trustless, as it relies on trust of the intermediaries involved in the chain from sending account to the destination account. However this process can also be contrasted with the blockchain as the blockchain does not require trust in the intermediaries and uses cryptography to secure the transaction. CFD providers tend to limit the amount which can be sent by credit/debit card (due to risks) and may specify bank transfers as the way to send larger sums.

e-Wallets are another approach. They can combine security, reliability and very fast processing. This is partly because the e-Wallet is already set up and connected to the trader's bank account or credit card, in effect they can remove some of the steps involved in moving money by pre-processing via accounts already set up by the trader with them. In this case trust is pre-established and the e-Wallet provider can process near to the speed of electronic signals.

Why use different types of payment processing?

In general, traders may wish to consider bank transfers for larger amounts. This is seen as a secure method, but can take longer and may be more expensive (and also may have variable charges due to intermediaries in the transfer process). For those who want to transfer quickly and with lower fees then credit card or e-Wallets can be a sound choice, with the caveat that an e-Wallet has to be set up beforehand (by creating an account) while a credit or debit card may be used out of the box. Once set up, e-Wallets can offer a secure, reliable and fast way to deposit funds and may have significantly higher deposit limits than a credit card, if this is a factor for a trader.

The trader needs to check the costs associated with a transfer such as fees to make the transaction beforehand (charged by the payment provider and in potentially also by the CFD provider), which will typically be shown by the broker when choosing each method. So even if the CFD provider does not charge for deposits, the trader needs to check how much the payment provider charges.

Something else to look out for is the minimum deposit. The minimum deposit is generally defined as the minimum initial deposit to open the live account. But while the CFD provider may set a minimum deposit, the payment provider itself might have a different minimum deposit. In general this only becomes an issue for CFD providers offering very low minimum deposits (or none), however the minimum deposit required by the provider needs to be checked. CFD brokers normally have a table in their funding tab which shows the details of each provider they support.

Different types of payment methods utilise different processes

Optimising performance - decentralisation vs centralisation

As all who use them know credit cards are fast, in fact they can seem almost instantaneous when used at a POS. As we have seen, this is partly to do with the way payments are credited. However there is still a lot of processing involved to allow this to happen within the financial system's payment networks.

Credit cards have to process huge number of transactions daily. They do this using data centers. Data centers allow for scale, they allow for optimations and they allow for reliability through redundancy and concentration of resources, so faults can be repaired, however they can be at risk from major failures. This is centralisation and the positive things it allows and its occasional risks.

The other side of this coin in decentralisation which is seen in the blockchain. In between in some sense are companies using APIs to optimse processes. With current technologies centralisation delivers speed and reliability. However decentralisation delivers inbuilt robust redundancy, as networks simply find other routes to process transactions.

The blockchain generally operates on the Internet which was built to withstand mutiple points of failure, from its origins as a military system. Hybridising centralisation and decentralisation is a tricky path but some try and do this, with the aim of a robust, failure proof system with high speed processing and some level of central oversight for efficiencies at scale.

Payment method availability

CFD providers tend to be pretty innovative compared with brokers offering different types of markets, partly due to their global nature. Feature availability tends to depend on the trader's region. This means that some payment methods may not be available in some regions. It also means that certain payment methods may be particular to specific countries or regions. The base of payment methods is normally Bank transfer, credit/debit cards and e-Wallets. PayPal is a very popular third party payment provider and some CFD brokers may offer availability. Of the e-Wallet payment providers, Neteller and Skrill are widely available via CFD providers.

In the case of these payment providers, the trader needs to set up and account with each provider to avail of the range of features and convenience each offers. e-Wallets such as PayPal offer peer-to-peer payments as well as e-Wallet services however when using PayPal to fund a CFD account, the trader is using it as an e-Wallet. There are nonetheless developments ocurring in using peer-to-peer technology to fund CFD trading accounts. When using payment methods, the trader needs to take note of restrictions which may be placed on their use.

For brokers focusing on global markets cryptos (i.e. blockchain deposits) are already available, in some cases. In general there are two ways to directly make a deposit in crypto. The first method is to send the crypto via the blockchain, wallet to wallet, but with an ultimate destination a trading account which is not denominated in the crypto, but in fiat. Thus the crypto deposit gets converted to the fiat and deposited thus into the account.

The next way is to send a crypto to an account denominated in the crypto. So this is a wallet to wallet transaction, however one which is processed by the CFD provider as well. Each crypto has time taken to process it, some faster than others. However the total time taken may depend on any further processing.

The CFD provider needs to support either of these methods for them to be applicable and many do not. However this may well be an area which will demonstrate increasing adoption in the future, due to its convenience as well as the support crypto enjoys among traders. Some CFD providers may offer crypto onramps via payment providers specializing in crypto, offering a user friendly way to send crypto as a deposit.

Emerging and future developments

The finance system has its set and tried and tested processes to move money, based around banks, trust and data transfer and processing. However innovation has happened where start-ups and established companies have taken these methods and found ways to optimise or bridge these processes via bank APIs. This can be seen in e-Wallets and payment processes such as peer-to-peer payments.

Alternatively some technologies have emerged which find an entirely different path to move value, which is to say the blockchain. Because of its novelty and its decentralised nature the blockchain is not fully mainstream in terms of its use by CFD providers, but it is available. The blockchain can take time and be congested and in some cases costly and the units of transfer can be extremely volatile, thus there has been a focus on making new technologies to overcome these issues.

So it might be that blockchain related technologies may drive future developments in payment processing as they offer a way to make world wide payments at relative speed, reliability and scale. The core developments have been and continue to be from the heart of the crypto ecosystem (including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Stellar) however mainstream finance is also getting involved in these technologies, even at the level of Central Banks. Stablecoins offer a way to mitigate the intense volatility of cryptos, thus these can be seen as a focus of development efforts for stable blockchain transfers.

Sidenote focus - depositing

Traders may have varying ideas about what they want out of trading. However when making the first deposit they might wonder how much to send. The first thing to note is that CFD trading is risky and the trader should only trade with money they can afford to lose. The next thing is the minimum deposit. Some brokers have no minimum deposit, but does this mean that the trader can send small sums ? The trader needs to have sufficient sums in their account to open a position and withstand adverse moves. In leveraged trading (normally offered by CFD providers) both gains and losses are amplified. Thus in a move against the traded direction, losses can build up quickly. This is why the trader should trade extensively on a demo before live trading and in between live trading. CFD brokers provide demos and some offer a demo version of their platform as part of the sign-up process.

High leverage offers a way to trade markets with lower account sizes. However a less risky way to trade with low account sizes is to trade with low trade sizes. This means the position sizes can be small such that the effect of adverse moves is reduced.

Some CFD providers offer low trade sizes, either as a low minimum trade sizes or via a Cent type account (on MetaTrader). Cent accounts are denominated in cents which has the effect of reducing the minimum trade size of 0.01 standard lots. These brokers tends to have small minimum deposits, which the trader may be able to trade with.

However in general the trader may wish to consider that to trade comfortably, they might need to deposit considerably more than the minimum deposit. Thus brokers who have high minimum deposits may actually more realistic in terms of the amounts required to trade CFDs. All this is even more so in regions where leverage has been restricted. If the trader wants to trade with smaller amounts, then they might wish to consider position trading at a broker offering markets with no leverage.

Brief summary

The traditional banking system has banks as its payment processing backbone. Other financial services companies can connect to this network and apply optimisations to create faster and lower cost payments. Alternatively, the blockchain exists as a separate backbone, also electronic in nature. Both rely on the updating of ledgers, but the blockchain uses Internet based, automated, trustless decentralisation, while the mainstream backbone relies on centralisation and trust. However there are trade-offs in centralisation vs decentralisation which can be used to create faster and lower cost blockchain networks and these is already crossover between these two backbones. For the CFD trader, they will tend to use payment providers connecting on the mainstream backbone, but there are emerging innovations in the use of the blockchain as well.

CFD Brokers & payment methods

CFD providers tend to operate globally, but may have different branches in different regions with differing regulations. Broadly speaking, CFD providers offer bank transfer, credt/debit card and e-Wallets. However some may offer other technologies as well. CFD brokers may have offers payment methods specific to a country in addition to their broad offering of payment methods. The CFD provider's website will list the methods specific to the trader's account.

Mainstream and alternative payment methods compared in this infographic

Demo to live

The trader does not need to use a payment method to trade on a demo account. Demo or virtual accounts (sometimes called trading simulators) will have a balance in virtual currency, which is not real and cannot be withdrawn. This balance can be traded with to test out the provoider, its platform and trading itself. To start trading on a real account, the trader will need to use a payment provider to add funds.

Where to find funding information

The CFD provider will often have a page on their website titled Funding or Payment Methods or something similar. This may either be found from the top menu or from a bottom menu. Here will generally be outlined the payment methods available and their details. This information may also be in a FAQ page. However payment methods and details should be available from the trader's account page, when this is set up. If payment methods are important to the trader, they may check these initially from the CFD provider's website. It will be noted that some deposit methods may be immediate, but withdrawals can take longer, this is because of additional processing by the CFD provider required to withdraw from a trading account.

There are a number of rules common to CFD providers and brokers in general regarding payment and one is that they do not accept third party payments. Below is provided a list of 10 CFD providers along with some details including main payment methods. For some the full list may be much longer, as it will include country or region specific payment methods. Again, the trader can normally check these in advance from the website for their region.

This list will in effect provide examples to the analysis presented above, illustrating how and why payment methods operate. Please note that this specific information about available payment methods is subject to change and the trader should consult the website for the CFD provider of interest.

Pepperstone Robots & Self Directed

  • Minimum deposit: $200
  • Online trading platforms: MT4, MT5, cTrader, TradingView

Pepperstone's main funding methods are Mastercard or Visa debit and credit cards, PayPal and Bank Transfer (both domestic and international). For deposits all these methods except bank transfers are immediate. Pepperstone does not charge any additional deposit or withdrawal fees.

Pepperstone offers support for automated traders and scalpers, as well as self-directed traders. Pepperstone provides a wide range of online trading platforms and can offer spreads from 0, plus a commission charge.

Deriv Robots & Synthetics

  • Minimum deposit: $5
  • Online trading platforms: MT5, cTrader

Deriv offers a wide range of payment methods which can vary depending on the trader's region. The core methods are Visa or Mastercard debit and credit cars, Skrill, Neteller and a range of providers to take payments from a bank account. The widest offering is in global markets as it supports methods specific to regions and countries and includes blockchain based deposits, withdrawals and Crypto denominated trading accounts. Deposits are generally instant (as payments come via providers) while withdrawals are processed within 24 hours.

Deriv offers a wide range of platforms and different ways to trade. As well as MT5, it also provides its Deriv X platform and cTrader. On all these platforms CFDs based on real markets such as Forex and Metals are offered as will as CFDs based on Synthetic markets which simulate different types of markets conditions.

easyMarkets Fixed Spreads Trading

  • Minimum deposit: $25
  • Online trading platforms: MT4, MT5, easyMarkets Platform, TradingView

easyMarkets global markets payment offering includes Visa credit/debit cards, AstroPay, Bank Wire Transfer, Local Bank Transfer, Union Pay, STICPAY, WebMoney and PerfectPay (these three are e-Wallets) and Crypto deposits. Crypto deposits are available for Bitcoin, Ethereum Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Tether (both ERC20 and TRC) and USDC on Solana. The credit card methods are instant, however the others take longer (but crypto takes about 3 hours). easyMarkets does not charge deposit fees.

easyMarkets can be described as a fixed spreads broker as it providers fixed spreads on all its platform except for MT5. Traders can trade MetaTrader robots (EAs) with fixed spreads as well. easyMarkets offers a user friendly platform designed for self-directed traders in the shape of the easyMarkets platform and TradingView.

HYCM MetaTrader EAs

  • Minimum deposit: $20
  • Online trading platforms: MT4, MT5, HYCM Trader

HYCM allows deposits by Bank Transfer, Visa credit/debit cards, Skrill and Neteller. All except Bank Transfer take up to 1 hour, Bank Transfer takes from 1 to 7 working days. The fastest methods to withdraw are Skrill and Neteller, which take up to 24 hours. HYCM does not charge for deposits, and does not charge for withdrawals above $300.

HYCM is a MetaTrader broker offering 300+ CFD markets to trade, providing MT4, MT5 and its HYCM Trader mobile app. HYCM has a low minimum deposit for all its deposit methods of $20 and offers accounts for both fixed and variable Forex spreads.

BlackBull Automated Trading

  • Minimum deposit: None
  • Online trading platforms: MT4, MT5, cTrader, TradingView

BlackBull is a global market CFD provider which has payment methods including Visa and Mastercard debit/credit cards, Bank Transfer, crypto (with supported coins including BTC, ETH, USDC, USDT and XLM), Skrill and Neteller. Deposits are 'instant on approval', but Bank Transfers take longer (1-3 days). BlackBull does not itself set a minimum deposit requirement, but as we discussed above, payment providers will have a minimum (as one does not send nothing via a payment network). The lowest minimum deposit are for Airtm ($1) and SEPA ($1) and Bank Transfer ($1). Crypto (i.e. blockchain based) has a $25 minimum deposit. It can be noted that there are also specified maximum deposits, except for Bank Transfer, AstroPay and SEPA. However the maximum deposit when specified is fairly substantial, including $25,000 for Crypto.

BlackBull offers support for automated traders and scalpers with rapid order execution. BlackBull's base ECN account does not have a minimum deposit, however traders who want low spreads with a commission charge can find their ECN Prime account with a $2000 minimum deposit. High volume traders may wish to consider the ECN Institutional account, with a $100,000 minimum deposit.

Dukascopy ECN Forex Trading

  • Minimum deposit: $1000
  • Automated trading platforms: MT4, MT5, JForex

Dukascopy Bank supports Wire Transfers, Visa and Mastercard Credit and Debit cars, Skrill, Neteller and account funding in crypto. At Dukascopy, the crypto is converted into USD, which is the base currency for a crypto funded account. The trader may fund via Bitcoin, Ethereum Or Tether. For larger deposits (from USD100,000), Dukascopy may be able to offer bank guarantees. This is a way to access funds immediately, even though they are in the trader's bank account. Dukascopy Bank does charge deposit and withdrawal fees for some of its payment methods.

Dukascopy Bank offers its JForex platform, along with MT4 and MT5. JForex is a platform which offers automated trading and a wide range of types of CFD markets. Traders may trade on the SWFX ECN allowing a wide range of trading styles.

Plus500 Intuitive Platform

  • Minimum deposit: None
  • Online trading platform: Plus500 CFD Trading Platform

Plus500 is regulated in and operates in a wide range of regions so payment methods availability may vary. Methods which may be available include Credit/Debit cards, Online banking (which is a way to transfer directly from a bank account), Wire Transfer, Trustly and PayPal. The minimum deposit for Plus500 is $100.

Plus500 offers a user friendly, intuitive trading platform available from watch app to desktop. Plus500 has a wide range of CFD markets to trade, with 2000+ on offer. Plus500's platform offers tools providing data about the activities of other Plus500 traders.

IC Markets Low Latency Trading

  • Minimum deposit: $200
  • Online trading platforms: MT4, MT5, cTrader, TradingView

IC Markets has quite a range of types of payment providers, for its global market offering. These include Mastercard and Visa credit/debit cards, PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, UnionPay (RMB only), Wire Transfer and Klarna. IC Markets does not charge additional fees for deposits or withdrawals.

IC Markets supports automated trading, scalping and high volume trading, with rapid order execution. IC Markets alos offers a wide range of markets to trade, including 2000+ Stocks CFDs.