Online trading is a process by which individual investors and traders buy and sell securities over an electronic network, typically with a brokerage firm. This type of trading and investing has become the norm for individual investors and traders since late 1990s with many brokers offering services via a wide variety of online trading platforms.
When you buy and sell stocks online, you’re using an online broker that largely takes the place of a human broker. You still use real money, but instead of talking to someone about investments, you decide which stocks to buy and sell, and you request your trades yourself. Some online brokerages offer advice from live brokers and broker-assisted trades as part of their service.
If you’re making securities transactions over the Internet, it’s always advisable to make sure your brokerage is using high-end encryption for safety reasons.
In the 1920s, the stock market was the realm of the rich and powerful. Now, plenty of people own stock. Online trading has given anyone who has a computer, enough money to open an account and a reasonably good financial history the ability to invest in the market. You don’t have to have a personal broker or a disposable fortune to do it.
Stocks in companies that re-invest their profits are growth stocks. Brokers buy and sell stocks through an exchange, charging a commission to do so. A broker is simply a person who is licensed to trade stocks through the exchange. A broker can be on the trading floor or can make trades by phone or electronically.
An exchange is like a warehouse in which people buy and sell stocks. A person or computer must match each buy order to a sell order, and vice versa. Some exchanges work like auctions on an actual trading floor, and others match buyers to sellers electronically. Some examples of major stock exchanges are:
- The New York Stock Exchange, which trades stocks auction-style on a trading floor
- The NASDAQ, an electronic stock exchange
- The Tokyo Stock Exchange, a Japanese stock exchange
- The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, a South African stock exchange. JSE stockbrokers offer online trading facilities as well.