I have done precision micro scalping with Dukascopy, which is an “ECN”. Now, as has been noted, that is an fairly “vague” concept but basically it means that an automated matching process is using and you are exposed to “near real market” pricing. Ordinarily the liquidity providers, as in the case of Dukascopy (you can get an Atom8 account, much cheaper, 100% Dukas feed) are quoting you close to “interbank type” rates.
As an EXTREME scalper, I know exactly that there is NO SLIPPAGE, and Counterparty Rejections at Dukascopy are VERY RARE. Their API resubmits the Limit Order on rejection. Keep in mind that I am using Limit Orders inside the spread at Dukascopy, so 0.5% of the time, mainly in slow conditions, a counterparty rejection is encountered. Dukascopy gets pissed off when their liqudity providers reject, so you can be sure that you get amazing fills. BUT… and this is not a problem for “normal” traders. WHOLESALE fills are not available on Dukascopy, and the displayed Book is for sizes 100k+. Smaller sizes are not shown, so the Book is more “orderly”… a sensible decision.
At LMAX, any “piss ant” trader with a 1k Lot is shown directly on the Book. This makes for a “noisier” book, and “noisier” means “more opportunity” for some idiot to match my Bid or Offer Spreads on LMAX are perhaps 30% narrower, but this is of course a matter of liquidity and the “distribution” of tiers, so not directly comparable.
LMAX is not an ECN, but a true “exchange” where the Exchange does the matching, and the participants (You, the Trader, and Small, Large and Huge Liquidity Providers) are operating on a “Level Playing Field” with “First In First Filled” Price/Time priority on the “exchange” matching engine.
I have access to Dukascopy but am a U.S. person; and I accomplish that ONLY by having a European Partner who is able to open the accounts. They are NOT available directly to U.S. persons, unless you are a “magician”…
So orders are not “routed out” as with Dukascopy to the liquidity providers where they get a chance to reject the transaction. As I said, with Dukascopy it doesn’t really happen anyway, and believe me, I know.
But you can do excellent Micro Scalping on Dukascopy, with the software platform managing dozens of simultaneous orders, it’s amazing… Much better to use Dukascopy, a “full service” retail brokerage, because VERY FEW are looking for Wholesale advantage, like me.
But, for Wholesale, IF you can get your hands on the right software platform, custom designed to their API; then LMAX is incomparable. Ordinary retail traders, like you or me, with the right software can take liquidity from under the noses of other liquidity providers, and literally achieve wholesale pricing. I just executed a couple of resting limits and got the Whole Spread with only 0.005 million (5k) lots. Here are the stats, where >>> or <<< means each mark = 0.1 PIPs wholesale advantage over retail price.
01-29 16:28:49.603 GBPJPY SEL *>>>>S (5.0) wPI: 5.00 qty: 0.005m @ prc: 177.829 bid: 177.824 msecs: 68 LMAXoid: AAGJJQAAAAJutKyU
01-29 16:28:57.763 GBPJPY SEL *>>>>S (5.0) wPI: 5.00 qty: 0.005m @ prc: 177.856 bid: 177.851 msecs: 68 LMAXoid: AAGJJQAAAAJutLST
Times are in CET (Central European Time) since I run from the U.S.A. via VNC to my platform, but it is situated on a dedicated Quad Xeon Linux box in Germany.
LMAX is “the real deal” but it is NOT for normal traders, they will be quite unhappy it does NOT have very good platforms, charting and all the “creature comforts” which ordinary retail traders want.