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In finance, a non-deliverable forward (NDF) is an outright forward or futures contract in which counterparties settle the difference between the contracted NDF price or rate and the prevailing spot price or rate on an agreed notional amount. It is used in various markets such as foreign exchange and commodities. NDFs are prevalent in some countries where forward FX trading has been banned by the government (usually as a means to prevent exchange rate volatility).
The NDF market is an over-the-counter market. NDFs began to trade actively in the 1990s. NDF markets developed for emerging markets with capital controls, where the currencies could not be delivered offshore. Most NDFs are cash settled in US dollars.
The more active banks quote NDFs from between one month to one year, although some would quote up to two years upon request. Apart from the standard tenors (1, 2 and 3 months) banks also offer odd-dated NDFs. NDFs are typically quoted with the USD as the reference currency, and the settlement amount is also in USD.
An NDF is a short-term, cash-settled currency forward between two counterparties. On the contracted settlement date, the profit or loss is adjusted between the two counterparties based on the difference between the contracted NDF rate and the prevailing spot FX rates on an agreed notional amount.
The features of an NDF include:
· the notional amount: This is the "face value" of the NDF, which is agreed between the two counterparties. It should again be noted that there is never any intention to exchange the notional amounts in the two currencies
· the fixing date: This is the day and time whereby the comparison between the NDF rate and the prevailing spot rate is made.
· the settlement (or delivery) date: This is the day when the difference is paid or received. Depending on the currencies dealt, the fixing date is one or two good business days before the settlement date.
· the contracted NDF rate: This is the rate agreed between the two counterparties on the transaction date, and is essentially the outright forward rate of the currencies dealt.
· the prevailing spot rate: The fixing of spot rate on the fixing date is based on a reference page on Reuters or Telerate with a fallback of calling four leading dealers in the relevant market for a quote.
Because an NDF is a cash-settled instrument, the notional amount is never exchanged. The only exchange of cash flows is the difference between the NDF rate and the prevailing spot market rate that is exchanged on the settlement date.
Consequently, NDFs are "non-cash" products, which are off-the-balance-sheet and as the principal sums do not move, possess much lower counter-party risks. NDFs are committed short-term instruments; both counterparties are committed and are obliged to honor the deal. Nevertheless, either counterparty can cancel an existing contract by entering into another offsetting deal at the prevailing market rate.
An investor enters into a forward agreement to purchase a notional amount, N, of the base currency at the contracted forward rate, F, and would pay NF units of the quoted currency. On the fixing date, that investor would theoretically be able to sell the notional amount, N, of the base currency at the prevailing spot rate, S, earning NS units of the quoted currency. Therefore, the profit, π, on this trade in terms of the base currency, is given by:
NDFs can be used to create a foreign currency loan in a currency which may not be of interest to the lender. In this structure, the borrower receives (for example) a dollar sum, but repayments are fixed to a foreign currency schedule. Settlement between the borrower and the lender takes place in dollars, but fixed to the exchange rate at time of repayment. At the same time as disbursing the dollar sums to the borrower, the lender enters into a non-deliverable forward agreement with a counterparty (for example, on the
Although this is theoretically identical to a foreign currency loan (with settlement in dollars), the borrower may face basis risk: the possibility that a difference arises between the swap market's exchange rate and the exchange rate on the home market. The lender also bears counterparty risk.
The borrower could, in theory, enter into NDF contracts directly and borrow in dollars separately and achieve the same result. NDF counterparties, however, may prefer to work with a limited range of entities (such as those with a minimum cr rating).
It is estimated that between 60 to 80 per cent of NDF trading is speculative. The main difference between the outright forward deals and the non-deliverable forwards is that the settlement is made in dollars since the dealer does not trust the alternative currency of the deal.
1. ^ a b Lipscomb, Laura (Federal Reserve Bank of
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