Nasdaq and FINRA to Raise Reporting Fees for Dark Pool Trades

The raised prices are in response to higher operational costs and off-exchange trading volumes, a regulatory filing said.

Nasdaq Inc and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have announced they will raise fees for private stock trading platforms, such as dark pools when reporting non-retail trades to a facility run by the exchange operator and regulator.

The raised prices, which will be effective from September 1, 2018, are in response to higher operational costs and off-exchange trading volumes, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory filing said. In total, the hiked costs could amount to more than $3.5 million annually.

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The changes are aimed at non-retail trades reported to a facility run by Nasdaq and FINRA. Specifically, it would affect brokers that run private trading venues such as dark pools, which are private trading platforms run by brokerage firms that don’t disclose pre-trade prices. However, the impact of the change in fees could be passed on to investors.

Almost all major banks run a dark pool. They were initially created to get large orders done with minimal price movement. However, because their execution costs are generally cheaper than on exchanges, these alternative trading platforms have also attracted smaller trades.

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Under regulations from the SEC, all stock transactions must be reported to a consolidated data feed. This is regardless of whether it happens on an exchange or in a dark pool. For off-exchange trades, they are reported through Trade Reporting Facilities (TRFs) which are run by Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange together with FINRA. In a separate regulatory filing, Nasdaq announced that, together with FINRA, it plans to open a new TRF in Chicago on September 10, 2018.

According to the filing of the fee changes, off-exchange trades reported to the FINRA/Nasdaq TRF have risen about 47 percent since 2012. At the same time, the operating costs of Nasdaq for the facility have risen around 16%.

Regulators are focusing in on dark pools

The changes in fees follow recent regulatory updates regarding dark pools. In July this year, Finance Magnates reported that the SEC voted unanimously to amend regulation regarding alternative tradings systems. The changes require dark pools to file detailed public disclosures on the new Form ATS-N.

The announcement from the SEC earlier this year was not a shock to the market. This is because there have been numerous occasions of wrongdoings from banks and brokers involving dark pools since 2011. As a result, banks and brokers have paid more than $229 million in fines.

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