Wall Street-backed MEMX launches in challenge to NYSE and Nasdaq

A view from New York Harbor looking north with the Lower Manhattan New York City skyline and the One World Trade Center tower and Jersey City New Jersey, just after sunset May 19
A view from New York Harbor shows the Lower Manhattan New York City skyline and the One World Trade Center tower (R), and Jersey City, New Jersey (L), just after sunset May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

September 24, 2020

By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Members Exchange (MEMX), a new U.S. stock exchange backed by some of the biggest customers of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Inc, launched on Monday with pricing aimed at taking market share from the incumbents.

“Out of the gate, we’re looking to be aggressive in order to attract order flow so that people can experience our exchange,” Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Kellner said in a recent interview.

The new bourse went live trading seven symbols, including Alphabet Inc, BlackBerry Ltd, and Exxon Mobil Corp <XOM.N), and plans to begin trading all U.S. stocks on Sept. 29.

The exchange’s mission is to improve the market through technological innovation, reduced complexity, and lower fees, while being a voice for its members on market issues, Kellner said.

MEMX was founded in January 2019 by nine financial institutions, including Bank of America, Charles Schwab Corp, Virtu Financial, Morgan Stanley, Fidelity and Citadel Securities.

Since then, MEMX has raised more than $135 million and brought on more than 40 members, including BlackRock Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase and Co and Jane Street Capital.

The Jersey City, New Jersey-based exchange was founded after years of complaints by brokers and other market participants over what they saw as unjustifiably high fees charged by most exchanges for things like market data and exchange connectivity.

Initially, MEMX will give away its market data and will pay more in rebates to brokers that add liquidity to its exchange than it charges in trading fees, meaning it will lose money as it tries to take share from Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s NYSE, Nasdaq, and Cboe Global Markets.

The exchange will “normalize” its fees once it attracts meaningful volume, but those fees will be very competitive and MEMX will be transparent in how it sets them, Kellner said.

(Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Jonathan Oatis)