Computer-based, investing order-matching systems that bypass the middleman-broker for order placement, providing investors with direct access to the market. Each brokerage firm decides which ECN it wants in its order-flow system, and how much functionality in the ECN it will give to its customers. With ECN, investors watch quotes, trigger sales on the best bid and best ask by entering orders directly into the system. This gives the customer speed in order-entry and order-execution processes, as well as allowing investors to trade in extended trading hours.

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