In the EU, laws governing most aspects are shared, including those that oversee online financial trading. These laws are embodied within the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), and they apply to all EU member states. The first version of MiFID was implemented in 2007 primarily governing over-the-counter (OTC) transaction. These cover everything from Forex and binary options trading as well as other derivatives like CFDs (commodities for difference).
In 2016, the MiFID laws were revised and packaged into MiFID II. Among the changes include the abolishment of trading bonuses offered by brokers. Issuing of bonuses had become a major incentive by the brokers within EU to entice new clients in a highly competitive industry, but now it is about to be prohibited. MiFID II comes into effect at the start of 2018, but already many European regulators have started prohibiting bonuses.
A highly favoured type of bonus was the no deposit bonus which a client would earn after completing the signing up process, even before they had made any deposits. Further bonuses would be issued according to the amount of money deposited. The benefits of these bonuses were clear, and they are still coveted by traders. If you’re among those hoping to still earn bonuses, there’s still hope because there are some regions that still have these no deposit bonuses.
The financial regulator in Germany is the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin). We know, it’s a mouthful; leave it to the Germans, right? Anyway, it’s also known as the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, but BaFin is what you will usually see on websites.
This regulator surprised both traders and brokers when it proposed a change in the laws governing OTC financial instruments. Unlike most other EU countries that introduced the ban on no deposit bonuses, BaFin only proposed that the brokers provide negative balance protection. This measure would protect clients’ accounts from going into negative territory when a trade went bad leaving them indebted to their broker.
BaFin sent this proposal to the brokers last year, and when the brokers did not object, the law went into effect. Now, brokers who are licensed and regulated by BaFin can still offer no deposit bonuses to their clients, even though most of the EU nations do not.
The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) last year issued circulars to all the brokers registered with them to stop providing no deposit bonuses and all other forms of bonuses. Today, some of these brokers licensed by CySEC are still offering these bonuses, and clients can still enjoy them.
There are several reasons why CySEC orders seem to be overlooked by the brokers, including the fact that CySEC oversees more than 180 brokers, making it difficult to trace all their activities. In addition, most companies which are registered by CySEC are running offshore divisions. This way, they can claim to be regulated by CySEC and operate within the EU while diverting their business to other non-EU regions. By doing this, they can still provide the no deposit bonuses to their clients.
Doing this is, of course, unethical, but there is no risk on the client side since you cannot be prosecuted.