The rapid expansion of the Internet has brought revolutionary changes to the investment industry, as the ability to invest online has increased access to the stock market for millions of investors and significantly reduced the cost of trading stocks.

Less than five years ago, buying and selling stock required investors to place orders with brokers over the telephone, a process that, with the proliferation of online investing, now appears both time consuming and expensive, because brokerages require substantial initial investments to open accounts and impose higher fees and commissions for trades effected through a broker than for trades made online without anyone’s assistance.

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