The online trading platform provider Tradescape Corp. is putting its money where its ECN portal is.
On Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of its purchase of the Market XT portal, the three-year-old New York company unveiled a novel incentive program for Market XT: Retail investors using it will be paid a penny per share of stock bought or sold on limit orders.
ECN platforms such as Market XT directly match retail customers that have stock to trade with brokers seeking to trade the same stock. A limit order is an order to buy or sell a security at a specified price. In a typical transaction, a customer executing a limit order worth $1,000 would normally pay a $7.95 commission; a client taking Tradescape up on its penny-per-share rebate offer would get back $2.05 and pay no commission at all.
Payments for order flows have been part of electronic trading since its inception. Brokers are paid for market orders, not for limit orders. This is the first program in which limit orders are paid for and the retail customer, rather than the retail broker, gets the rebate and pays no commission.
Tradescape chief executive officer Omar Amanat said the idea is to boost limit-order volume at Market XT and therefore improve the system's liquidity.
Mr. Amanat also wants to put pressure on Web brokerage giants such as E-Trade and Ameritrade, which has a $13 per-trade fee.
"This is a disruptive pricing strategy," he said. "Look at the economics for an active trader: Not only will it save on commission costs, it will also give a net payment" if trading volume is high. "The competition has to come up with a counterpunch."
Tradescape made a name for itself with a service that tells individual investors the lowest price available for a specific security, information it provides through its proprietary Web sites - tradescape.com and Momentum Securities - and through online trading platforms run by Morgan Stanley, Salomon Smith Barney, and Merrill Lynch.
For now, Mr. Amanat said, the incentive program will only be offered through its two proprietary sites.