On-line brokerage has dramatically revolutionized the manner in which people invest money; it has taken advantage of the latest media and has provided accessibility to practically every person; whereas before the advent of the 'consumer oriented' internet, stock brokerage was carried out only in the world's financial centres, by financial analysts, professional brokers, and Multimillionaires, purchasing stock in most of the world's listed companies has become a matter of 'a click away'. No doubt, the growing number and diversity of on-line brokerages is posing a real threat to conventional brokerage & investment firms like Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, who in turn have had to design and build their own on-line services, for fear of losing their clients.
On-line brokerage provides an inexpensive, fast, and flexible way for anyone -from the most inexperienced first-timer to investment veterans- to dabble in the world's stock markets, be it for fun, education or serious investment. There are issues, however, like security and privacy to be addressed. These don't seem to be hindering the massive daily growth of on-line activity.
This essay puts in context the growth of on-line firms and investors, through a number of statistics. Also, it looks at the products, services trends and issues in this growing arena, such as the impact of technology, consumer education, privacy and how investors are getting to grips with it. It should be viewed as a technical glance at the growing relevance of on-line brokerage in today's world, and the changes it is already bringing about, for the world's consumers, firms and markets.