An Introduction to FIX API

Introduction to FIX API

FIX API is something you may have seen discussed in a variety of forex trading communities, especially so in the cTrader community. FIX API is a messaging protocol that is widely used in the electronic trading industry. It is by no means exclusive to forex trading. In fact, FIX API is used by stock, metals, futures and options exchanges. It’s used by tier 1 banks, at the very top of the food chain all the way down to retail forex brokers and even by retail traders. 

The History of FIX API

FIX stands for Financial Information eXchange. API, which is a common term used in IT, stands for Application Programming Interface. FIX API is a non-proprietary, free and open protocol which is owned by a UK non-profit entity called FIX Protocol Ltd. The protocol was originally created to support equities trading and to replace phone trading in the early 90s. Since then, the technology has been extended significantly and us being used by thousands of electronic trading companies around the world. Today there are many versions of FIX messaging protocol, however, the most commonly used version is 4.4. This is the version used by cTrader.

What are the Advantages of FIX API

The main advantage of FIX API is that it’s free. The FIX community ensures that the protocol remains free, forever. Besides that, other primary advantages are as follow;

  • Conformance. FIX is extensive and covers an array of securities. Not every user of FIX uses 100% of the available messages. Usually, a broker or exchange will publish Rules of Engagement to tell others what messages are used. 
  • Speed. FIX messages were designed to be lean. This means they can travel fast and do not require that much bandwidth to transmit. Which is ideal because FIX messages are usually sent at high frequencies. 
  • Multichannelling. You can establish FIX sessions with multiple brokers simultaneously to observe trading conditions such as spreads and liquidity and find opportunities across a wider playing field. 

Accessing FIX API as a Retail Trader

Just because the technology is technically free, it doesn’t mean that every forex broker will just give you access to trade via FIX API. There is usually an administration cost on the broker’s side. This, unfortunately, leads to some requirements. Some brokers will, for example, will impose minimum deposit criteria or minimum monthly trading volume criteria. cTrader however, gives access to FIX API with every single trading account, whether live or demo. 

FIX API in cTrader

One of the unique advantages of cTrader is that the platform provides FIX API access to each and every trading account. You can find details of how to connect to your cTrader account via FIX API from either the desktop or web version of cTrader. Simply go to the settings panel. In cTrader you will get two sessions. One session is for receiving market data, also known as quote session. The other one is for sending and modifying orders and positions, this is known as the trade session. 

cTrader FIX API

How Does FIX API Work

When you trade forex, usually you do it through a platform provided by your broker. For example MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 or cTrader. However, when you trade through FIX API, there is no platform to work with. You need to somehow build your own platform, interface or algorithm to send instructions to and listen to information from the FIX API. The application you create can be as simple or as complex as you desire to make it. In a lot of cases, traders will choose to purchase a simple FIX trading application from vendors like ClickAlgo. Traders who have the know-how ill use an opensource software library called QuickFIX to start building their own software, which of course requires some experience. 

This is what a logon message in FIX API looks like: 


Getting Started with FIX API

This guide is to simply serve as an introduction. In the future, we plan to even deeper into this subject. If you are interested and literally have no idea what to do next, we can suggest heading over to the cTrader help site, where you can find some pretty useful information. In addition, you could discuss development requirements with specialists like ClickAlgo or Forest Part FX, who have recently introduced a number of new trader focused services.

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