In financial markets, the retail forex (retail off-exchange currency trading or retail FX) market is a subset of the larger foreign exchange market. This "market has long been plagued by swindlers preying on the gullible," according to The New York Times. Whilst there may be a number of fully regulated, reputable international companies that provide a highly transparent and honest service, it's commonly thought that about 90% of all retail FX traders lose money. 
It is now possible to trade cash FX, or forex (short for Foreign Exchange (FX)) or currencies around the clock with hundreds of foreign exchange brokers through trading platforms. The reason that the business is so profitable is because in many cases brokers are taking the opposite side of the trade, and therefore turning client capital directly into broker profit as the average account loses money. Some brokers provide a matching service, charging a commission instead of taking the opposite site of the trade and "netting the spread", as it is referred to within the forex "industry."
Recently forex brokers have become increasingly regulated. Minimum capital requirements of US$20m now apply in the US, as well as stringent requirements now in Germany and the United Kingdom. Switzerland now requires forex brokers to become a bank before conducting FX brokerage business from Switzerland.
Algorithmic (automated) trading has become increasingly popular in the FX market, with a number of popular packages allowing the customer to program his own rules.
The most traded of the "major" currencies is the pair known as the EUR/USD, due to its size, median volatility and relatively low "spread", referring to the difference between the bid and the ask price. This is usually measured in "pips", normally 1/100 of a full point.
According to the October 2008 issue of e-Forex Magazine, the retail FX market is seeing continued explosive growth despite, and perhaps because of, losses in other markets like global equities in 2008.