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ready to Trade Online in '99!
By Tony French, Forum Manager
One of the most promising web
developments for 1999 will be online UK stock trading, says Tony French, Forum
Ahh, technology lag. It shouldnt
be news to anyone that Britain and Europe trail behind the U.S. in technolgies from space
exploration to web development, but nowhere is this lag more boldly demonstrated
than in online stock and securities trading.
US online (and offline) brokerage
giant Charles Schwab, for example, laid claim to more than 2 million web-brokerage
accounts in 1998, with $145 billion in assets online. Industry experts predict that 3.5
million U.S. trading accounts will be opened online in 1999, more than the total number of
new international accounts predicted for the next four years.
But online trading leaders Schwab,
E*Trade and Toronto Dominion all see Europe and the UK as a potentially huge market and
are entering now with hopes of realising sizeable profits in the next three years. UK
residents can already open accounts at Schwab
Worldwide, trading in either US or UK markets, or with sector-leader Toronto Dominion
through its hugely successful Green Line
holding. Maverick competitor E*Trade has pledged to
enter the UK market by mid-year; Britian is one of 32 countries in which E*Trade had
licensing agreements to launch online stock trading.
The UK is a good bet for these
companies; thirty-four percent of U.K. citizens, or 12 million people, own stock, and the
UK is a European leader in the growth of home and office PC use. The introduction of the
Euro should stimulate UK and Europen traders as Europe's exchanges to link together, and
eliminate the currency risk from trading between European countries
And web trading does work
outside the US; Schwab claims that after just one year, 80 percent of business in its Hong
Kong office comes through the web. With a changing economy, the growing embrace of
technology, and increased concerns about retirement planning, its a good bet that
these heavily discounted Internet brokerage options will be an attractive bet for UK web
users this year.
Tony French previously managed The
Microsoft Network's UK Business & Finance forum, and is the Managing Director of AF Stocktaking.