Retail foreign exchange trading is a small segment of the larger foreign exchange market where individuals speculate on the exchange rate between different currencies. This segment has developed with the advent of dedicated electronic trading platforms and the internet, which allows individuals to access the global currency markets. In 2016, it was reported that volume from retail foreign exchange trading represents 5.5% of the whole foreign exchange market ($282 billion in daily trading turnover).
Prior to the development of forex trading platforms in the late 90s, forex trading was restricted to large financial institutions. It was the development of the internet, trading software, and forex brokers allowing trading on margin, that started the growth of retail trading. Today, traders are able to trade spot currencies with market makers on margin. This mean they need to put down only a small percentage of the trade size and can buy and sell currencies in seconds.