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Non-Deliverable Forwards (NDFs) – Can They Be Effective in Risk Mitigation?

Working with financial markets involves dealing with various elements, including supply and demand dynamics, levels of liquidity, technological advancements, and more. These factors are crucial in shaping a trader’s approach and strategy within the trading market.

During periods of market uncertainty, traders actively seek strategies to mitigate risks, often turning to investments in low-volatility securities or employing hedging tactics to minimise potential losses. It’s worth noting that each financial instrument responds uniquely to factors such as liquidity, demand, and market developments.

One commonly employed practice for mitigating risks associated with trading currencies or other tradable securities is the use of non-deliverable forwards. This approach enables investors to secure more favourable trading conditions in the immediate future. How does this strategy operate? Let’s delve into the details.

Understanding Non-Deliverable Forwards

Non-deliverable forwards represent contractual agreements between two parties who establish a specific price and date for executing a trade, whether in the communities of Forex, stocks, commodities, or other markets, under predetermined conditions.

However, the unique aspect of NDFs lies in the fact that neither party physically transfers the underlying product. Instead, NDFs involve the exchange of the net difference between the agreed-upon security prices on the specified date.

This approach allows traders to sidestep supply-level fluctuations by focusing solely on the price differential, thereby mitigating the impact of market volatility. Executing an NDF contract necessitates both parties to approve the agreed product, date, and price.

In contrast to deliverable forwards (DFs), which mandate the transfer of the principal product upon the exchange date, NDFs prove advantageous, particularly when anticipating potential market shortages or unforeseen supply changes leading to a drop in liquidity levels.

Initially, NDF markets faced limitations, with traders encountering challenges finding counterparties willing to agree and sign NDF contracts. Moreover, the market had a small number of providers and brokers. However, technological advancements have streamlined NDF trading, making it more accessible and facilitating smoother execution.

NDF trading is witnessing a growth in popularity, with the Bank for International Settlements reporting that these forwards now contribute to over $200 billion in daily transaction value.

NDF Regulations

Non-deliverable forwards remain largely unregulated in various regions, with certain jurisdictions even prohibiting NDF trading due to their high volatility and unpredictable nature. Consequently, most of these forwards are executed over the counter, where both parties directly agree on the exchange of prices specified in the agreement.

Global restrictions and regulations further contribute to limitations, prohibiting the legal pairing of certain currencies in Forex trading. Typically, Forex traders are constrained to a predefined set of currency pairs. Nevertheless, savvy investors may identify profitable opportunities by pairing two seemingly unrelated currencies to capitalise on significant gains.

To overcome these constraints, traders often refer to the more tolerant regulations offered by offshore jurisdictions. These environments provide a degree of flexibility and financial freedom, allowing for the execution of NDF transactions involving diverse currencies and securities.

The expansion of NDFs has empowered investors to explore a broader spectrum of tradable securities that would typically be restricted in traditional markets. This flexibility enables traders to manage risks and enhance their potential gains effectively.

How NDFs Contribute to Risk Mitigation

Non-deliverable forwards are commonly employed in the context of currencies, be it in Forex or cryptocurrencies, given the characteristic volatility and complexity of these markets.

The pronounced market volatility in foreign exchange and cryptocurrencies arises from myriad factors influencing prices. Take, for instance, the widely tracked EUR/USD pair, which is significantly impacted by economic, geopolitical, national economic, and commercial factors in both the US and Europe. Consequently, these markets prove highly unpredictable, especially during periods of war and uncertainty.

Traders turn to NDF agreements as a strategic approach to diminish the impact of liquidity on agreed currency pairs, concentrating on capturing the net price difference between the two currencies from the agreement to the exchange date.

Furthermore, in most Forex currency pairs, the USD plays a dominant role as the world’s most popular and influential currency. However, with NDFs, traders have the flexibility to pair any two currencies without constraints, enabling them to explore opportunities not typically available in traditional markets. This expanded flexibility empowers traders to diversify their approaches and manage risks more effectively.

Closing Remarks

In conclusion, non-deliverable forwards involve the agreement on a specific date and price for trading security. Notably, this transaction revolves around the price difference and does not include the actual transfer of ownership of the underlying security.

As over-the-counter transactions, NDFs are gaining traction and popularity. They offer traders the opportunity to participate in a more secure Forex environment, facilitating the exchange of diverse currencies and providing a means to mitigate risks associated with volatility and liquidity.

IEMLabs is an ISO 27001:2013 and ISO 9001:2015 certified company, we are also a proud member of EC Council, NASSCOM, Data Security Council of India (DSCI), Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The company was established in 2016 with a vision in mind to provide Cyber Security to the digital world and make them Hack Proof. The question is why are we suddenly talking about Cyber Security and all this stuff? With the development of technology, more and more companies are shifting their business to Digital World which is resulting in the increase in Cyber Crimes.


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