A business that allows customers to exchange one currency for another currency. A currency exchange may be a stand-alone business or may be part of the services offered by a bank or other financial institution. The currency exchange profits from its services either through adjusting the exchange rate or taking a commission. INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Currency Exchange' The exchange rate that a currency exchange quotes is typically close to the spot rate, although the exchange will adjust this rate somewhat to ensure that it makes a profit on the transaction. Because the transaction is not conducted at the spot rate, and depending on the profit that the exchange wants to make, consumers may find that it is less expensive to incur ATM or credit card fees at the foreign destination, rather than use exchange services ahead of time.
An important part of the foreign exchange market comes from the financial activities of companies seeking foreign exchange to pay for goods or services. Commercial companies often trade fairly small amounts compared to those of banks or speculators, and their trades often have little short-term impact on market rates. Nevertheless, trade flows are an important factor in the long-term direction of a currency's exchange rate. Some multinational corporations (MNCs) can have an unpredictable impact when very large positions are covered due to exposures that are not widely known by other market participants.
National central banks play an important role in the foreign exchange markets. They try to control the money supply, inflation, and/or interest rates and often have official or unofficial target rates for their currencies. They can use their often substantial foreign exchange reserves to stabilize the market. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of central bank "stabilizing speculation" is doubtful because central banks do not go bankrupt if they make large losses, like other traders would, and there is no convincing evidence that they do make a profit trading.
Foreign exchange fixing is the daily monetary exchange rate fixed by the national bank of each country. The idea is that central banks use the fixing time and exchange rate to evaluate behavior of their currency. Fixing exchange rates reflects the real value of equilibrium in the market. Banks, dealers and traders use fixing rates as a trend indicator.