Futures are the buying or selling of a standard quantity of a financial asset or commodity at a future date and at a fixed price.  Futures, unlike forwards, are standardized contracts and must be traded on a recognized exchange.  Delivery of a future is rare, and is not allowed at IB where futures that result in physical delivery are concerned.  The futures markets bring together people wishing to hedge to protect themselves against the rise and fall of prices, and speculators who are trying to benefit from such movements.