Internet

SEC guidelines to urge online trading

The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to issue guidelines that will encourage stock trading on the Internet.

The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to issue guidelines that will encourage stock trading on the Internet, the strongest indication yet of the government's regulatory stance toward online market transactions.

In remarks made to the Bloomberg Forum, SEC commissioner Steve M.H. Wallman said the guidelines will provide information to brokers, dealers, and investment bankers about ways to handle customer orders and other transactions online while guarding the investor's interests.

"It will set a tone that use of electronic media should be encouraged to the same extent that people use paper," Wallman said. "The Internet provides opportunities for great technological change and innovation. It's doable, and I think it will be done."

The statement was a clear sign that the federal government does not intend to stand in the way of online trading, a surprisingly relaxed policy for an agency that has historically been known for its tough market enforcement.

Wallman's comments reflect the Clinton White House's generally pro-commercial position on the Internet, which has driven significant economic development in the last year. Hundreds of companies have expressed interest in trading securities online since March, when the SEC gave conditional approval to a New York brewery seeking to trade its stock online in a precedent-setting decision.

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