Clients of Datek Online--a discount brokerage firm--can now view trading information in decimals over Datek's Web site. The decimal option was made available to subscribers last week as part of an overall upgrade to the online trading Web site. Although the exchanges are not currently using the decimal system to express stock quotes, Datek's public relations director, Mike Dunn, says, "the exchanges weren't ready to offer extended hours trading either, but people could do it through Datek."
Dunn explains that customer demand for the decimal option and the movement toward an industry wide conversion next summer prompted Datek to begin offering the capability. "Some people are just more comfortable looking at a decimal rather than a fraction," he says. "We're now capable of switching everything over to the decimal system at some point, so when everyone else is ready to go, we're already there."
Datek's decimal option will use traditional fractions that are expressed as an accepted decimal amount. "You couldn't enter a trade at $25.26, it would have to be $25.125 or $25.25," Dunn says. He adds that most of the world "can't handle an investor putting in a limit order at $26.26, so right now subscribers can only view the decimal quotes based as a decimal version of accepted fractions that are already out there."
From the customer service standpoint, Dunn emphasizes, "it just makes it easier for some people to view stock prices. Some people have a rough time figuring out what 5/16ths is, so it's really a convenience we're providing for the customer."
Other enhancements made to the site include an express trading option that allows customers to enter a succession of trades without each being routed separately to a confirmation message. A simplified display option was also added to enable faster trade execution by eliminating the graphics on the Web page so that the trading page can load faster. As Dunn explains, "We're constantly modifying the system and tweaking it to make it better."
Datek, the parent company of the Island electronic communications network, routes many of its orders to the ECN for execution. Island, an electronic equity order matching system, is the second largest alternative trading system in terms of liquidity behind Instinet, and matches over 100 million shares per day. Island and Datek recently extended trading hours to offer post-market trading from 8 a.m until 8 p.m Eastern Time. Island is the only ECN to freely display its limit order book through real-time streaming data on its Web site.