Nadex also offers spread contracts which, like binary options, payout when the underlying asset closes higher or lower than the purchase price. A spread contract has an upper and lower band with the purchase price lying anywhere between the bounds. However, unlike binary options, spread contracts have no defined risk or reward, and the overall profit or loss is determined by the difference between the purchase price and the expiration price, up to the maximum limit defined by the contract.

Binary options are deceptively simple to understand, making them a popular choice for low-skilled traders. The most commonly traded instrument is a high-low or fixed-return option that provides access to stocks, indices, commodities and foreign exchange. These options have a clearly-stated expiration date, time and strike price. If a trader wagers correctly on the market's direction and price at the time of expiration, he or she is paid a fixed return regardless of how much the instrument has moved since the transaction, while an incorrect wager loses the original investment.

The FBI estimates that the scammers steal $10 billion annually worldwide.[11] The use of the names of famous and respectable people such as Richard Branson to encourage people to buy fake "investments" is frequent and increasing.[12] Articles published in the Times of Israel newspaper explain the fraud in detail, using the experience of former insiders such as a job-seeker recruited by a fake binary options broker, who was told to "leave [his] conscience at the door".[13][14] Following an investigation by the Times of Israel, Israel's cabinet approved a ban on sale of binary options in June 2017,[15] and a law banning the products was approved by the Knesset in October 2017.[16][17]