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On September 24, the Metatrader 4 and 5 mobile platforms were removed from the Apple store. This has caused an uproar with traders – the two pieces of software are immensely popular when it comes to accessing the FX market. In fact, Metatrader is a renowned name that almost any trader nowadays knows, and the developer behind it, MetaQuotes is also famous for its continued and dedicated support to the platform. However, the Apple ban sparks a discussion, and raises the following questions – is Metatrader, or the people behind it responsible for the way the software is used? To what extent has the MT community, or even the wider FX market been affected by this? If the ban is permanent, is there an alternative to the platform that is available for IOS users? Join us as we examine these and more questions that stand a month after the ban.
Why did Apple ban the platforms in the first place
The September 24 ban was completely unexpected. Apple has not been clear on the motivation behind the ban, but representatives of MetaQuotes expressed that it notified them on September 23 that the platform did not meet the guidelines of the Apple store, and it was then taken down. The developer was also quick to clarify that this was in no way due to Western sanctions on Russia. On twitter, MetaQuotes published an update, stating it would be taking the necessary steps to reinstate its software. It also noted that the ban did not affect distributions of the platform that were already downloaded, just prevents new users from obtaining access to them. One of the most likely explanations behind the removal was the years-long problem of the way the platform is used by fraudsters.
The VirtualDealer plugin and the platform being abused by scammers
Metatrader 5 was available on the Apple store as a single platform, instead of a dedicated distribution for every broker. This creates a problem, because not all brokers who use the software are operating in good faith. In fact, only licensed companies do so – their offshore counterparts have various schemes they run.
One of them is the very infamous pig-butchering scam. Behind this gruesome name is a scheme that relies on attracting investors in dating apps, presenting oneself as a successful Forex trader, and offering the victim to manage their funds on the Metatrader platform. This is where the VirtualDealer plugin comes into play. There are several addons that come with every distribution of MT5 and this is one of them. It allows the broker to manipulate the markets as they wish, showing clients as losing or gaining money.
In either case, the victim is manipulated to deposit more and more – if their balance appears to be increasing, they are told now is the time to capitalize on their gains, and if it goes the other way, they are required to deposit more to offset losses. In either case, the result is the same – the victim’s money is stolen by the scammers. The impact of this scam is not to be understated – just in 2021, it was reported by the FBI that this scheme was responsible for over $429 million in losses.
The issue is compounded by the fact MetaQuotes does not in any way vet the people it sells its software to. It does not require them to hold licenses with a financial regulator, and the single app it has for all of them means there is no way for Apple to know what broker is good and what is not. It seems likely that the solution to this problem would be making each broker have their own entry for the platform on the App store, leading to scams being easily removed. Regardless, while the developers are trying to find a solution, it has been a month since the ban – here are the effects it has had so far:
How was the Metatrader community and the market affected
The ban has made some members of the MT community to lose their trust in Apple, as it is seen as arbitrary. In fact, there are even some rather unfounded theories that the ban is a product of corporate espionage. However, for the most part, the Forex market has not noted any decrease in activity. And since the ban does not affect existing versions of the software, it has not caused users who already have the platform to have to look for an alternative.
The amount of clients that sill use the platform is difficult to estimate, but in June 2021, it had over 16 000 reviews. What’s more, the overwhelming perception of the software was positive – it had a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. It seems likely that, even if the ban continues to be in place, the platform will still have its users on IOS devices. We also consider it possible that the ban will be lifted once the issue with MetaQuotes is resolved. This is not the first time the company was falsely flagged itself, not even this year! The firm was briefly blacklisted by the British authorities for a week in September 2022.
Either way, should the ban turn out to be permanent, the new traders who do not have MT4 or 5 would need to find somewhere else to trade- here is where they are going, according to most recent sentiments:
What alternative trading platforms are traders using
In a recent poll by Finance Magnates, respondents outlined which alternative to Metatrader they would use. Over 350 people took part in this study on LinkedIn and it was found that more than half of them would use cTrader. The other platforms had a significantly lower amount of interest – MatchTrader, which ranked second had 27% and Levirate and XOpenHub, the third and fourth ones had 12% and 8% of the votes.
Another alternative to the platforms is a web-based version of Metatrader. These are commonly offered by most worthwhile brokers and can be accessed from any modern browser. So should the ban stay in force, the clients who wish to use the software from IOS devices can still do so, just not from its own dedicated app.