Finance Magnates presents country-oriented reviews in the newest series of foreign exchange (FX) industry analyses. We want to x-ray economies, most popular trading brands, legislation, volumes, numbers of active clients and every other aspect of specific jurisdictions that might be important for your company while deciding to enter (or bypass) a particular location. In the first piece, we take a closer look at Poland, one of the biggest countries in the European Union (EU), but still with a relatively unsaturated market.

Poland 101. The Basic Information about the Country

The Republic of Poland is located in Central Europe, covering an area of 312,696 square meters. With a population of nearly 38.5 million people, it is one of the biggest European Union states by area and population. Warsaw is the nation's capital and the largest metropolis, attracting most businesses. Other locations and major cities worth mentioning are: Kraków, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Poznań and Łódź.

Currently, Poland is the sixth-largest economy in the European Union by nominal gross domestic product (GDP) and the fifth by GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP). However, a modern free-market economy has been developing in the country only since the early 1990s. Previously, it was centrally controlled by communists since the end of World War II.

List of nominal GDP for the European Union Countries

Although Poland is one of the most dynamically developing countries of Central Eastern Europe (CEE) and former satellite states of the Soviet Union, citizens' economic and financial consciousness still carry the stigma of the former system.

It can be seen in the still relatively small number of Poles that possess equities or any other more complex financial trading instruments. According to the latest data provided by KDPW (National Depository for Securities), at the end of 2021, polish brokerage houses handled 1.37 million individual investing accounts (participation rate to population stands at 4%). In comparison, Germany (83 million citizens) reports around 12.5 million citizens involved in the stock market (participation rate at 15%).

In the case of the FX market and contracts for difference (CFDs), the numbers are substantially lower. The local supervisor does not provide official data, but according to estimates, it appears that 60-80 thousand people are actively speculating on derivatives.

“The Polish market has been developing impressively over the last few years. In fact, Poland has experienced the growth in line with the overall global trend in this dynamically broadening industry” says Marcin Niewiadomski, the Head of Europe at OANDA and the Chief Executive Officer of TMS Brokers (which is wholly-owned by OANDA Global Corporation)

The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the usual game rules. An additional unprecedented policy of record-low interest rates pursued by the National Bank of Poland (NBP) somehow forced people to seek other forms of savings than bank deposits and the mattresses of their own beds. As a result, they are increasingly and eagerly making their way to the financial markets, and the local industry still seems unsaturated.

"(…) due to low-interest rates and high inflation, it has to be mentioned that many investors around the world are looking for safer and smarter ways to save money. As to trading activity, then clients volume is generated where volatility is found. We've observed over [the] last years that investors have a lower tendency of sticking to their favorite market in favor of seeking interesting investment opportunities," Omar Arnaout, the CEO of X-Trade Brokers (XTB), said in a statement, commenting on the current market situation.

Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego (KNF) and FX/CFD Industry Regulations

If you want to start a regulated trading company in Poland, Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego or the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (PFSA) is the first place you should aim for. The entity is responsible for issuing licenses and controlling the retail CFD market activities.

Over the past decade, Poland was considered a pioneer in terms of regulating the trading industry. Poland first decided to limit the maximum  leverage  on FX to 100:1 (back in 2015) to protect local customers. Then in 2018, Poland again defied European curbs on the CFD industry (which almost all European countries have adopted) and introduced its own version of the new laws.

Maximum level of leverage on the CFD Market in Poland

At first glance, Polish FX/CFD regulations mimic those introduced by the European Securities and Markets Authority ( ESMA  ) a few years ago. Thus, retail traders without confirmed knowledge and experience can use maximal leverage not higher than 30:1 on Forex majors. However, KNF supplements the private and professional trader categories with a third one: experienced trader.

Upon verification by his broker or trading company, any retail trader who has a history of executed trades during a two-year period and/or at least one year of professional experience in the financial industry may enjoy higher leverage, up to 100:1, when trading FX majors, minors, indices and gold CFDs.

Brokers Operating on the Polish Market

Brokers operating in Poland and reporting to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority must provide quarterly information about the percentage of profitability of their clients. According to regulatory filings, there are currently seven leading retail FX/CFD trading brands in Poland (in alphabetical order): Admiral Markets, Alior Bank, BossaFx, CMC Markets, mForex, TMS Brokers (TMS, owned by OANDA) and X-Trade Brokers (XTB). Of course, many foreign brokers also offer their services to Polish clients, taking advantage of the possibility of passporting licenses obtained in other jurisdictions under EU law.

Alior Bank, BossaFX and mForex are owned by retail banks and brokerage houses; other brands are typical FX/CFD brokers. The first place among them is occupied by XTB, a publicly listed company on the Polish stock exchange (according to the latest quarterly data from Q3 of 2021, it has 390 thousand clients worldwide). Second place belongs to TMS Brokers.

“We’ve noticed very strong and crucial for the business tendencies. First of all, there’s a huge noticeable multi-asset trend in both the demand from current clients and especially from the newcomers. Clients look for broader opportunities looking into stocks, crypto CFDs, ETF CFDs and so on. More than 50% of all clients, who initially trade crypto CFDs, also go on to trade other leverage products or stocks. People are willing to try more tools. Second of all, investing with the mobile app has become our clients’ first choice,” Mr Niewiadomski added.

2021 brought many significant changes within the local competitive environment: OANDA Global Corporation has completed its acquisition of Dom Maklerski TMS Brokers SA (TMS), and Conotoxia Holdings, an operator of Cinkciarz.pl and a few other Conotoxia brands, launched its official branch in the country.

Two other FX trading brands decided to join the polish market a year earlier. Back in June 2020, AvaTrade revealed that it had opened a new office in Warsaw as a part of its international expansion plans. Two months later, ATFX informed it started its operations in Kraków, opening an IT development and marketing/search engine optimisation (SEO) office.

Polish FX/CFD Industry by Numbers

During Q3 of 2021, XTB confirmed its position as the most significant player in the local FX/CFD market. According to Finance Magnates Intelligence, it generated an average monthly turnover of $167 billion globally (reaching the TOP10 spot on the biggest brokers by volume list). According to current estimates, the broker serves at least 30 thousand active retail customers in Poland (80,000 Polish people were actively trading on FX in 2020).

Number of active FX traders in Poland

"The approach to investing has changed in recent years. Not only has financial awareness increased, but also at XTB we have seen the average age of our clients decrease. We are currently living in a world where investing has stopped being the pastime of professionals and has become something everyone around us has taken an interest in." Mr Arnaout added.

Moving on to more general figures for the entire CFD industry in Poland, let's take a closer look at the value of average (AVG) and first-time deposits (FTDs) made by local traders. As the data collected by cPattern shows, polish traders deposited on average $2,867 on a monthly basis in 2021 (data refers to the first ten months of the year). However, the median ranks lower at $1,833. FTD statistics are more modest: the average for 2021 stands at $268 and the median at $228. Deposit/withdrawals are placed below the values calculated by Finance Magnates Intelligence compared to industry standards.

Deposits and withdrawals

According to PFSA data, in 2020, Polish clients realized a record Forex profit of 227 million zlotys ($57.3 million). The value of losses also turned out to be the highest in history, reaching 1.9 billion zlotys ($300 million). The loss was realized by over 62 thousand active clients, which is twice as much as in the previous year. As a result, 77.7% of retail investors suffered a loss, and its average value throughout the year stood at 11 thousand zlotys ($2.8 thousand) per person.

Finance Magnates presents country-oriented reviews in the newest series of foreign exchange (FX) industry analyses. We want to x-ray economies, most popular trading brands, legislation, volumes, numbers of active clients and every other aspect of specific jurisdictions that might be important for your company while deciding to enter (or bypass) a particular location. In the first piece, we take a closer look at Poland, one of the biggest countries in the European Union (EU), but still with a relatively unsaturated market.

Poland 101. The Basic Information about the Country

The Republic of Poland is located in Central Europe, covering an area of 312,696 square meters. With a population of nearly 38.5 million people, it is one of the biggest European Union states by area and population. Warsaw is the nation's capital and the largest metropolis, attracting most businesses. Other locations and major cities worth mentioning are: Kraków, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Poznań and Łódź.

Currently, Poland is the sixth-largest economy in the European Union by nominal gross domestic product (GDP) and the fifth by GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP). However, a modern free-market economy has been developing in the country only since the early 1990s. Previously, it was centrally controlled by communists since the end of World War II.

List of nominal GDP for the European Union Countries

Although Poland is one of the most dynamically developing countries of Central Eastern Europe (CEE) and former satellite states of the Soviet Union, citizens' economic and financial consciousness still carry the stigma of the former system.

It can be seen in the still relatively small number of Poles that possess equities or any other more complex financial trading instruments. According to the latest data provided by KDPW (National Depository for Securities), at the end of 2021, polish brokerage houses handled 1.37 million individual investing accounts (participation rate to population stands at 4%). In comparison, Germany (83 million citizens) reports around 12.5 million citizens involved in the stock market (participation rate at 15%).

In the case of the FX market and contracts for difference (CFDs), the numbers are substantially lower. The local supervisor does not provide official data, but according to estimates, it appears that 60-80 thousand people are actively speculating on derivatives.

“The Polish market has been developing impressively over the last few years. In fact, Poland has experienced the growth in line with the overall global trend in this dynamically broadening industry” says Marcin Niewiadomski, the Head of Europe at OANDA and the Chief Executive Officer of TMS Brokers (which is wholly-owned by OANDA Global Corporation)

The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the usual game rules. An additional unprecedented policy of record-low interest rates pursued by the National Bank of Poland (NBP) somehow forced people to seek other forms of savings than bank deposits and the mattresses of their own beds. As a result, they are increasingly and eagerly making their way to the financial markets, and the local industry still seems unsaturated.

"(…) due to low-interest rates and high inflation, it has to be mentioned that many investors around the world are looking for safer and smarter ways to save money. As to trading activity, then clients volume is generated where volatility is found. We've observed over [the] last years that investors have a lower tendency of sticking to their favorite market in favor of seeking interesting investment opportunities," Omar Arnaout, the CEO of X-Trade Brokers (XTB), said in a statement, commenting on the current market situation.

Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego (KNF) and FX/CFD Industry Regulations

If you want to start a regulated trading company in Poland, Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego or the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (PFSA) is the first place you should aim for. The entity is responsible for issuing licenses and controlling the retail CFD market activities.

Over the past decade, Poland was considered a pioneer in terms of regulating the trading industry. Poland first decided to limit the maximum  leverage  on FX to 100:1 (back in 2015) to protect local customers. Then in 2018, Poland again defied European curbs on the CFD industry (which almost all European countries have adopted) and introduced its own version of the new laws.

Maximum level of leverage on the CFD Market in Poland

At first glance, Polish FX/CFD regulations mimic those introduced by the European Securities and Markets Authority ( ESMA  ) a few years ago. Thus, retail traders without confirmed knowledge and experience can use maximal leverage not higher than 30:1 on Forex majors. However, KNF supplements the private and professional trader categories with a third one: experienced trader.

Upon verification by his broker or trading company, any retail trader who has a history of executed trades during a two-year period and/or at least one year of professional experience in the financial industry may enjoy higher leverage, up to 100:1, when trading FX majors, minors, indices and gold CFDs.

Brokers Operating on the Polish Market

Brokers operating in Poland and reporting to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority must provide quarterly information about the percentage of profitability of their clients. According to regulatory filings, there are currently seven leading retail FX/CFD trading brands in Poland (in alphabetical order): Admiral Markets, Alior Bank, BossaFx, CMC Markets, mForex, TMS Brokers (TMS, owned by OANDA) and X-Trade Brokers (XTB). Of course, many foreign brokers also offer their services to Polish clients, taking advantage of the possibility of passporting licenses obtained in other jurisdictions under EU law.

Alior Bank, BossaFX and mForex are owned by retail banks and brokerage houses; other brands are typical FX/CFD brokers. The first place among them is occupied by XTB, a publicly listed company on the Polish stock exchange (according to the latest quarterly data from Q3 of 2021, it has 390 thousand clients worldwide). Second place belongs to TMS Brokers.

“We’ve noticed very strong and crucial for the business tendencies. First of all, there’s a huge noticeable multi-asset trend in both the demand from current clients and especially from the newcomers. Clients look for broader opportunities looking into stocks, crypto CFDs, ETF CFDs and so on. More than 50% of all clients, who initially trade crypto CFDs, also go on to trade other leverage products or stocks. People are willing to try more tools. Second of all, investing with the mobile app has become our clients’ first choice,” Mr Niewiadomski added.

2021 brought many significant changes within the local competitive environment: OANDA Global Corporation has completed its acquisition of Dom Maklerski TMS Brokers SA (TMS), and Conotoxia Holdings, an operator of Cinkciarz.pl and a few other Conotoxia brands, launched its official branch in the country.

Two other FX trading brands decided to join the polish market a year earlier. Back in June 2020, AvaTrade revealed that it had opened a new office in Warsaw as a part of its international expansion plans. Two months later, ATFX informed it started its operations in Kraków, opening an IT development and marketing/search engine optimisation (SEO) office.

Polish FX/CFD Industry by Numbers

During Q3 of 2021, XTB confirmed its position as the most significant player in the local FX/CFD market. According to Finance Magnates Intelligence, it generated an average monthly turnover of $167 billion globally (reaching the TOP10 spot on the biggest brokers by volume list). According to current estimates, the broker serves at least 30 thousand active retail customers in Poland (80,000 Polish people were actively trading on FX in 2020).

Number of active FX traders in Poland

"The approach to investing has changed in recent years. Not only has financial awareness increased, but also at XTB we have seen the average age of our clients decrease. We are currently living in a world where investing has stopped being the pastime of professionals and has become something everyone around us has taken an interest in." Mr Arnaout added.

Moving on to more general figures for the entire CFD industry in Poland, let's take a closer look at the value of average (AVG) and first-time deposits (FTDs) made by local traders. As the data collected by cPattern shows, polish traders deposited on average $2,867 on a monthly basis in 2021 (data refers to the first ten months of the year). However, the median ranks lower at $1,833. FTD statistics are more modest: the average for 2021 stands at $268 and the median at $228. Deposit/withdrawals are placed below the values calculated by Finance Magnates Intelligence compared to industry standards.

Deposits and withdrawals

According to PFSA data, in 2020, Polish clients realized a record Forex profit of 227 million zlotys ($57.3 million). The value of losses also turned out to be the highest in history, reaching 1.9 billion zlotys ($300 million). The loss was realized by over 62 thousand active clients, which is twice as much as in the previous year. As a result, 77.7% of retail investors suffered a loss, and its average value throughout the year stood at 11 thousand zlotys ($2.8 thousand) per person.