e-cortal Launch Marks First Pan-European Online Brokerage

Cortal, a subsidiary of French bank Paribas, Friday announced plans to launch an online discount brokerage which will trade on nine markets in eight countries.

The e-cortal service, set to launch Sept. 27, will offer trades on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the main exchanges in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Zurich.

The Tokyo, Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Vienna exchanges may be added to the service in the future. Eventually, the company also intends to offer access to IPOs on the Nasdaq and other markets.

e-cortal will offer a flat rate of 15 euros (US$15.5) on online trades of up to 2,500 (US$2,591) euros on any market. The 6 euro registration fee will be waived for those who sign up early. A telephone service will offer trades at 35 euros per trade.

The decision to create an online brokerage was based on a survey taken at the beginning of the year, according to Paribas. The same research determined e-cortal’s choice of markets.

The e-cortal interface will be available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, with Finnish and Dutch to be added by the end of the year. French and American market investors will receive real-time quotes, with the London exchange to follow. Paribas research will also be available on the e-cortal site.

The online brokerage will rely on Paribas’ partnership with Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD) to trade in the U.S. markets, while a separate bank will manage trades in the European markets. Additional local implementations will follow in the next year.

The company has selected more than 100 mutual funds to trade on the service, and will ramp up to 200 funds by the end of this year.

Cortal expects the introduction of its online service to double its number of clients over three years.

Several brokerages have hopped on the UK online trading bandwagon, including DLJDirect (DIR), E*TRADE (EGRP), Charles Schwab (SCH), and even free ISP trend-setter FreeServe (FREE). The brokerage will soon face competition from E*TRADE’s cross-border online trading platform, which is expected to become operational in the next 10 months.

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