A British company is set to trigger a big change in the way that stocks are dealt worldwide by launching a free online share-trading service.
Financial services firm CMC's site (www.deal4free.com) will carry no commission charges, stamp duty or sales taxes.
From its launch on 15 November, customers will be able to trade shares in the FTSE 350 and the top 30 companies on the Dow Jones index.
The service will expand to include stocks in companies across Europe and Asia, as well as many more from the US by next Easter. The company says that its own currency conversion software can execute cross-border transactions in a matter of seconds and in the currency of the client's choice.
CMC's managing director Peter Cruddas said that it would make its money by hedging stocks against each other and by securing good terms to buy bulks of stock.
"On the internet, the client does all the work," said Cruddas. "The client is king and the internet cuts out the broker. We employ 14 dealers to handle our currency business. If we weren't operating on the internet, we'd need 70 more."
He said that he expected a wide range of clients to use deal4free, from large corporates to individual speculators. A financial device known as the Contract for Difference (CFD) will allow clients to buy or sell shares at prices quoted by CMC without ever having to take physical delivery of them.
Other financial firms have offered free online share trading in the past, but only for a fixed introductory period, and Merrill Lynch charges a $100 fee to deal as much as you like.
"In the future, people won't ever pay commission to trade. We wanted to be the first with a free service," said Cruddas.
CMC is backing the launch with advertising in broadsheets and the internet.
It has also secured deals on several ISPs and finance-related portals.