An option is a contract to that gives the holder the right to buy or sell currency at a pre-determined price at a specific price. The holder of the contract has the right to exercise the option but is not obligated to. Options are used as a hedge in FOREX transactions; they are frequently used by companies that trade in oversea goods to reduce their risk.
Options come in two different flavors. Call options give the contract holder the right to buy the currency. Put options give the contract holder the right to sell the currency to someone else.
When the contract expires the actual value of the options is whatever the holder will get by actually exercising the contract. If the holder will gain nothing by exercising the option then the actual value of the option is zero. The value of the option at any other time during the contract is what is called the intrinsic value, that is the value if the holder were to exercise the option at that time.
The intrinsic value is partially based on the set price of the contract, which is also known as the “strike price”. A call option has an intrinsic value if the current price of the currency is higher than the strike price. This would allow the contract holder to buy the currency at less than the current value and then re-sell it for a profit. A put option has an intrinsic value if the current price is less than the strike price of the option.
Any time an option has a positive intrinsic value it is said to be “in the money” if the intrinsic value is negative then the option is considered to be “out of the money”. It can also have a value of zero which means that the current price is the same as the strike price in which case it is considered to be “a the money”. Options should only be exercised when they are “in the money”.
There are complicated formulas used to calculate the intrinsic value of an option, these formulas take into consideration both the current price as well as the time value. The time value is calculated based on the market conditions, including things like interest rates on both currencies as well as the time left in the contract. The pricing of options is delicate; they must be low enough to attract buyers but also high enough to attract the sellers as well.
Options are primarily used to minimize risk in FOREX trades. They help to protect against unexpected fluctuations in the market. When you buy an option your potential loss is limited to the price of the option. When you sell options your potential loss can be significantly higher. The seller gains the premium for selling the option but depending on how the market moves their loss could be unlimited.
As a hedging tool, there are many different types of options available. They are often used to minimize the potential for loss due to fluctuations in the foreign exchange market by companies that trade overseas.
In the FOREX market there is a special option known as a digital option. A digital option pays a specified amount at expiration if certain criteria are met. If the criteria are not met there is no payment.
To us a digital option the trader must first decide which way the market is moving. They then decide on a payoff amount if the market moves as expected within a certain time frame. Using this information they can then calculate the price of the digital option.
The price of the euro is currently trading at about 1.2400 and you expect it to rise to 1.2800 within 3 months. You decide to buy a put digital option with a payoff of $5000. The cost of the option is $800.
If at the end of the 3 months the euro is more than 1.2800 you get $5000. If the price is less, you lose $800.
Options can be a valuable trading tool for all FOREX traders.