Electronic Communication Network (ECN)

Definition of 'Electronic Communication Network (ECN)'


An automated system that matches buy and sell orders for securities. An ECN connects major brokerages and individual traders so that they can trade directly between themselves without going through a middleman. The ECN makes money by charging a fee for each transaction. ECNs make it possible for investors in different geographic locations to quickly and easily trade with each other. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires ECNs to register as broker-dealers.

Investopedia explains 'Electronic Communication Network (ECN)'


An ECN attempts to eliminate the third party’s role in executing orders entered by an exchange market maker or an over-the-counter market maker, and permits such orders to be entirely or partly executed. Orders placed through ECNs are usually limit orders.

ECNs display the best available bid and ask quotes from multiple market participants, then automatically match and execute orders. They not only facilitate trading on major exchanges during market hours, they are also used for after-hours trading and foreign currency trading. ECNs allow for automated trading, passive order matching and speedy execution. Some ECNs are designed to serve institutional investors, while others are designed to serve retail investors.

Some of the different ECNs include Instinet, SelectNet and NYSE Arca. Instinet was the first ECN (1969), and it is used by small brokerages and for transactions between institutions. It is widely used by market makers for Nasdaq trades, but individuals and small firms can use it, too. SelectNet is used primarily by market makers, but it doesn’t require immediate order execution and it helps investors trade with specific market makers. NYSE Arca grew out of the merge between the New York Stock Exchange and Archipelago, an early ECN (1996). It facilitates electronic stock trading on major U.S. exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Oil Reserves

    An estimate of the amount of crude oil located in a particular economic region. Oil reserves must have the potential of being extracted under current technological constraints. For example, if oil pools are located at unattainable depths, they would not be considered part of the nation's reserves.
  2. Joint Venture - JV

    A business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task. This task can be a new project or any other business activity. In a joint venture (JV), each of the participants is responsible for profits, losses and costs associated with it.
  3. Aggregate Risk

    The exposure of a bank, financial institution, or any type of major investor to foreign exchange contracts - both spot and forward - from a single counterparty or client. Aggregate risk in forex may also be defined as the total exposure of an entity to changes or fluctuations in currency rates.
  4. Organic Growth

    The growth rate that a company can achieve by increasing output and enhancing sales. This excludes any profits or growth acquired from takeovers, acquisitions or mergers. Takeovers, acquisitions and mergers do not bring about profits generated within the company, and are therefore not considered organic.
  5. Family Limited Partnership - FLP

    A type of partnership designed to centralize family business or investment accounts. FLPs pool together a family's assets into one single family-owned business partnership that family members own shares of. FLPs are frequently used as an estate tax minimization strategy, as shares in the FLP can be transferred between generations, at lower taxation rates than would be applied to the partnership's holdings.
  6. Yield Burning

    The illegal practice of underwriters marking up the prices on bonds for the purpose of reducing the yield on the bond. This practice, referred to as "burning the yield," is done after the bond is placed in escrow for an investor who is awaiting repayment.
Trading Center