The Foreign Exchange Transactions refers to the sale and purchase of foreign currencies. Simply, the foreign exchange transaction is an agreement of exchange of currencies of one country for another at an agreed exchange rate on a definite date.

Spot Transaction

The spot transaction is when the buyer and seller of different currencies settle their payments within the two days of the deal. It is the fastest way to exchange the currencies. Here, the currencies are exchanged over a two-day period, which means no contract is signed between the countries. The exchange rate at which the currencies are exchanged is called the Spot Exchange Rate. This rate is often the prevailing exchange rate. The market in which the spot sale and purchase of currencies is facilitated is called as a Spot Market.

Forward Transaction

A forward transaction is a future transaction where the buyer and seller enter into an agreement of sale and purchase of currency after 90 days of the deal at a fixed exchange rate on a definite date in the future. The rate at which the currency is exchanged is called a ‗Forward Exchange Rate‘. The market in which the deals for the sale and purchase of currency at some future date are made is called a ‗Forward Market‘. Future Transaction: The future transactions are also the forward transactions and deals with the contracts in the same manner as that of normal forward transactions. But however, the transactions made in a future contract differ from the transaction made in the forward contract on the following grounds:

  • The forward contracts can be customized on the client‘s request, while the future contracts are standardized such as the features, date, and the size of the contracts is standardized.
  • The future contracts can only be traded on the organized exchanges, while the forward contracts can be traded anywhere depending on the client‘s convenience.
  • No margin is required in case of the forward contracts, while the margins are required of all the participants and an initial margin is kept as collateral so as to establish the future position.

Swap Transactions

The Swap Transactions involve a simultaneous borrowing and lending of two different currencies between two investors. Here one investor borrows the currency and lends another currency to the second investor. The obligation to repay the currencies is used as collateral, and the amount is repaid at a forward rate. The swap contracts allow the investors to utilize the funds in the currency held by him/her to pay off the obligations denominated in a different currency without suffering a foreign exchange risk.

Option Transactions: The foreign exchange option gives an investor the right, but not the obligation to exchange the currency in one denomination to another at an agreed exchange rate on a pre-defined date. An option to buy the currency is called as a ‗Call Option‘ while the option to sell the currency is called as a ‗Put Option‘.

Thus, the Foreign exchange transaction involves the conversion of a currency of one country into the currency of another country for the settlement of payments.

Settlement dates

Settlement date, as the name implies refers to the date on which the transaction is settled by the transferor of deposits, with reference to foreign exchange transactions. In a Spot exchange transaction, though the word "Spot" implies "immediate", it usually takes two business days for the transaction to get settled.

Though the spot rate is the rate of the day on which the transaction has taken place, the execution of the transaction occurs within a maximum of two working days. But in certain cases of countries currencies, the settlement may take place the very next business day, an example being currency settlement between US Dollars and Canadian Dollars. There are two aspects involved in settlement dates: the settlement location and dealing location. Settlement location refers to the country in which the transaction has to be settled or paid and dealing location refers to the country in which the bank dealing with the foreign exchange transaction is located.

Forward exchange rates are applicable for the delivery of foreign exchange at some future date, which may be specified. There are two options in forward exchange transactions. Let us assume that Emirates in UAE is purchasing aircrafts from the United States. Obviously, the settlement has to be made in US dollars. Suppose if the agreement between the two countries is to settle the payment after 2 months time, there are now two options available for Emirates, UAE: one, to remain silent now and after 2 months period, buy the US Dollars at the spot market at the then prevailing spot rate and settle the payment to the United States. In this case, the settlement date will be as per the Spot Exchange transaction. Secondly, the country can buy US dollars at the forward exchange market at the agreed prevailing forward exchange rate, which would be valid for settlement after two months period, irrespective of the spot rate prevailing at the time of settlement after two months. The second option avoids uncertainty and risk and the settlement takes place at the maturity of the forward exchange contract.