Binary Options Trading in Israel
The last decade saw a massive flourishing of the Israeli binary options industry. At the height of the boom in binary options, the industry is estimated to have raked in between $5 billion to $10 billion in revenues per annum. The sheer size of this industry, estimated at some point to play host to 100 companies, was unprecedented. The industry featured binary options brokers, affiliates, call centre operators, salespeople and programmers.
In 2016, things changed after it was revealed that some of the companies involved in the industry had been involved in some shady practices, with millions of dollars bilked from unsuspecting clients. An expose by the Times of Israel led to widespread investigations and a crackdown on the entire industry by regulators and the Israeli government. Let us take a look at what has happened since then.
The financial markets in Israel are regulated by the Israeli Securities Authority (ISA). However, the ISA did not actively regulate binary options. This led to a proliferation of companies and entities operating in this industry, without any form of regulation or guidelines that were supposed to streamline the operations of these firms.
As the number of companies offering binary options related services grew, the ISA began to look into the market and decided to start with the implementation of a set of rules meant to protect Israeli binary options traders. The initial reaction of the ISA was to place a prohibition on the marketing and offering of binary options to Israeli citizens. With the local market taken away from them one fell swoop, the Israeli binary options brokers and related companies turned their attention to the foreign markets.
A period of rapid proliferation of companies (good, bad and ugly) followed. With aggressive sales tactics, many of these companies were able to bring in funds from overseas-based traders. Things looked good, until the Times of Israel published the now viral article on the “Wolves of Tel Aviv”, citing a number of alleged scams perpetrated by several of these companies.
The highly publicized suicide of a Canadian citizen drew unwanted attention to the industry and the ISA decided to act by pushing through recommendations to completely outlaw the industry in Israel. In June 2017, the Knesset voted to ban the offering of binary options in Israel completely. Presently, the industry is at the point of extinction in Israel, leaving many traders stranded.
Currency Pairs & Spread
With most Israeli binary options traders unable to trade binary options with local brokers, most of them had turned to offshore brokers as a source of their trading portals. The currency pairs listed on these platforms are the same ones found on most forex platforms. The Israeli Shekel is not listed on binary options platforms. Therefore, only major, minor and exotic currencies from other regions are traded.
Assets traded do not come with spreads, even though these are used by brokers in determining the expiry value of any traded assets.
The binary options platforms used by binary options brokers servicing Israeli clients are mostly of the commercial, turnkey variety.
The issuance of bonuses to traders will depend on what broker is used for trading activity. CySEC-licensed brokers are prohibited from offering bonuses. Brokers located in Vanuatu, Mauritius and Seychelles offer bonuses to their clients.
Deposit and Withdrawal Options
Binary options trading in Israel is prohibited. At the moment, it is unclear how the new rules that completely ban binary options will affect the manner in which transactions are carried out.
- Bank wires: Even though bank wires are a universally accepted option for most binary options traders, the banking channel is usually easy for government agencies to target when implementing bans on the remittance of money to prohibited channels. Therefore, it is expected that the use of bank wires for depositing funds with binary options traders will wind down in Israel.
- Credit/debit cards: Cards issued by MasterCard and other credit card companies are a bit restricted. Many of these cards are linked to bank accounts. Therefore, it is very likely that traders will find it increasingly difficult to use credit cards as a means of transacting on offshore binary options platforms if the prohibition extends to the payment channels.
- E-wallets: The usage of digital wallets among Israelis is relatively low. Transacting on offshore binary options platforms will warrant the use of digital wallets such as CashU, which is specifically built for countries in the Middle East. International wallets such as Skrill and Neteller will also be available. The use of digital wallets to transact with offshore brokers looks set to increase dramatically as the ban on Israeli-offered binary options kicks in.
Legality & Regulations
In terms of the legal considerations and regulatory conditions attached to the conduct of binary options in Israel, the ISA has banned all trading of binary options in Israel, as well as the offering of binary options by Israeli companies to Israeli traders and overseas traders. Therefore, trading of binary options is technically illegal in Israel.
- Is it legal to trade binaries in Israel?
Binary options were banned within Israel by the Israeli Securities Authority (ISA) in March 2016. This ban seems to extend to the offering of binary options by companies located within Israel to Israeli citizens as well as traders in offshore locations. It is unclear if the new rules specifically prohibit the trading of binary options. Many Israeli citizens still trade binary options with offshore brokers.
- Are binaries regulated in Israel?
Binary options are now regulated in Israel and classified as an outlawed product. The offering of binary options to Israeli citizens is prohibited.
- How to trade binaries in Israel?
Israeli traders can no longer trade binary options with Israeli binary options brokers. This leaves trading binary options with regulated offshore brokers as the only viable option.
- Is it safe to trade binary options in Israel?
It is not safe to trade binary options in Israel. The ban has pushed many brokers outside the country to other non-regulated jurisdictions. Many of these brokerages which operated lawlessly still have their infrastructure in place (leads, trader information, etc) and will continue to market their products to Israeli traders using different names. This will make it difficult to sift out the genuine brokers from the fake ones.
- As an Israeli citizen, am I allowed to trade binary options with offshore brokers?
Left to the ISA, no Israeli trader should participate in binary options. But many of them still do business with offshore brokers. Therefore, this is a personal choice.
Best Binary Options Brokers in Israel
The ban on the marketing and offering of binary options to Israeli citizens and foreigners has effectively shut down the binary options brokerage industry in Israel. The only safe binary options brokers for Israel are offshore regulated entities such as:
The ban on binary options in Israel has been applauded in many quarters, but has also raised genuine concerns. Some concerned industry watchers have pointed to the fact that some of the scam companies have left Israel and are already setting up shop in other countries where there is no regulation, thus allowing them to keep fleecing other traders in many countries.
So while the ban may protect Israeli traders to some extent, does it protect the overseas traders who are meant to be the target of the protectionist guidelines passed in June 2017 by the Knesset? Time will provide the answer to this question.