ECN Vs STP Account

Category: Trading Guides | Author: Trading Brokers | Date: June 2, 2023

ECN (Electronic Communication Network) and STP (Straight Through Processing) accounts are two popular types of trading accounts commonly used in the forex market. Both account types offer unique features and characteristics that cater to different trading needs. Understanding the differences between ECN and STP accounts, as well as their pros and cons, can help traders make informed decisions about which account type may be better suited for their individual trading preferences. In this article, we will explore the definitions, features, pros, and cons of ECN and STP accounts, and provide a comparison to assist traders in choosing the most suitable account for their trading endeavors.

What is an ECN Account?

An ECN account, which stands for Electronic Communication Network account, is a type of trading account widely used in the forex market. It operates on the principle of connecting traders directly with liquidity providers, such as banks, financial institutions, and other market participants. The main purpose of an ECN account is to facilitate direct and transparent trading without the need for intermediaries or dealing desk interventions. With an ECN account, traders have the advantage of accessing the interbank market, where various liquidity providers compete to offer the best bid and ask prices for currency pairs.

Pros of an ECN Account

  • They often provide traders with tighter spreads, reducing transaction costs.
  • Traders have access to a transparent market environment, which can help traders make more informed trading decisions.
  • Trades are executed directly with liquidity providers, ensuring that there is no conflict of interest between the trader and the broker.

Cons of an ECN Account

  • It charges a small commission for each trade, which can add up particularly for high-volume traders.
  • They often have higher minimum deposit requirements compared to other account types.
  • It can be more complex for beginner traders who are not familiar with the direct market access and the depth of market information.

What is a STP Account?

An STP account, which stands for Straight Through Processing account, is a type of trading account commonly used in the forex market. The term “straight through processing” refers to the automated process of executing trades without any manual intervention or dealing desk manipulation. With an STP account, trades are routed directly to liquidity providers, eliminating the need for a dealing desk and allowing for faster and more efficient trade execution. In an STP account, when a trader places an order, it is sent directly to the liquidity providers, which can include banks, financial institutions, and other market participants. The orders are executed based on the available liquidity and the best bid and ask prices in the market at that time.

Pros of a STP Account

  • It provides traders with direct market access, allowing them to interact directly with liquidity providers.
  • It can accommodate a wide range of trading strategies, including scalping, day trading, swing trading, and long-term investing.
  • They generally have lower trading costs due to its variable spreads and absence of commission fees.

Cons of a STP Account

  • They do not provide a fixed spread for traders, which can make it more challenging to plan trades and calculate precise entry and exit levels.
  • Brokers may add a small markup to the spreads provided by liquidity providers as a way to generate revenue.
  • In cases of high-volume trading, particularly for larger order sizes, the execution of trades in an STP account may lead to market impact, resulting in slippage or less favorable execution.

Comparison between ECN and STP Account

Execution Model

An ECN account operates on an Electronic Communication Network model, where traders have direct access to liquidity providers and their prices. Orders are matched with the best available bid and ask prices from multiple sources. However, an STP account follows a Straight Through Processing model, where orders are automatically routed to liquidity providers without manual intervention. Trades are executed based on the available liquidity and the best bid and ask prices in the market.


ECN accounts generally offer tighter spreads, especially during periods of high liquidity. The spreads can be variable, reflecting market conditions and the competitiveness of liquidity providers. STP accounts also have variable spreads, which can tighten during high liquidity but may widen during low liquidity or volatile market conditions.

Market Depth

ECN accounts provide access to the depth of market information. Traders can see the available bid and ask prices at different levels, allowing for a better understanding of market liquidity and potential trading opportunities. STP accounts do not always offer access to the depth of market information. Traders may not have visibility into the order book or the available liquidity beyond the best bid and ask prices.

Order Execution

ECN accounts offer fast order execution speeds due to the direct market access and automated execution process. Traders can benefit from quick fills and potentially better prices. STP accounts also provide fast order execution, as trades are processed electronically without manual intervention. However, the execution speed may vary depending on the broker’s technology infrastructure.

Which is Better For You?

For traders looking to decide between an ECN (Electronic Communication Network) account and an STP (Straight Through Processing) account, it is essential to consider several key factors. ECN accounts provide direct market access, tighter spreads, and depth of market information, making them suitable for scalpers and those who prioritize transparency. However, they come with commission fees.

On the other hand, STP accounts offer automated order routing, potentially lower trading costs, and accommodate various trading styles. They are more accessible and may not charge commission fees, but spreads can be slightly wider.

Traders should assess their trading style, cost considerations, execution speed requirements, and the importance of market transparency before making a decision. Evaluating reputable brokers that offer these account types and their specific offerings can also be helpful in determining the most suitable choice for individual trading needs.


In conclusion, choosing between an ECN account and an STP account depends on individual trading needs and preferences. ECN accounts offer direct market access, tighter spreads, and depth of market information, but come with commission fees. STP accounts provide automatic order routing, potentially lower trading costs, and accommodate a wider range of trading styles. Traders should consider factors such as cost considerations, trading style, execution speed, market transparency, account requirements, and reputable broker selection when making their decision. It is essential to evaluate these factors and choose the account type that aligns with one’s trading goals and priorities.

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