How do Zero-Fee share Trading Apps make Money?

trading apps

Lately in the news, zero-fee trading apps have talked about democratizing investing. They claim to save costs for clients and have fueled the popularity of meme stocks. But some of these brokers have also come under fire for turning the stock market into a game.

You may have used apps like moneylion in your busy time but modern FinTech companies sparked the trend of zero-commission trading for busy consumers.

This trend later spread throughout the brokerage sector. Commission-free trading apps may seem too good to be true, and in many situations it is. It raises the question of how brokers who charge zero commissions turn a profit.

The Role of a Stock Broker

To execute trade orders in the United States, one must use a middleman known as a licensed stockbroker. and stock exchange. This stock brokerage could be an online stock brokerage or a traditional one. No matter how trades are placed through a licensed broker or brokerage. They can only be carried out via a browser, mobile app, desktop platform, or over the phone.

How Stock Brokers Made Money in the Past

Trading commissions, which could amount to up to 1% of the total cost of the trade (i.e., $1,000 in commission for a $100,000 stock purchase). Accounted for more than half of the income received by full-service stock brokers in the past.

As commissions dropped from $19.95 to $4.95 per trade in the 1990s and 2000s, discount brokers gained notoriety.

Ultimately, the surge in zero-commission trading was caused by the development of fintech apps.

Other Sources of Stock Broker Revenue

Brokers were forced to find alternative sources of income for the brokerage as commission income kept declining. The need to discover new pipelines to counteract declining sales grew as commission revenues declined. This made having three main revenue streams other than commissions necessary.

When zero-commission trading gained popularity, a lot of discount brokers had already begun to create larger revenue streams. Let’s examine a few of the main sources of income.


Brokers have a variety of options for obtaining interest income. Interest fees can mount up quickly in client accounts worth billions of dollars, generating substantial profits for the broker.

When clients bought stocks on margin, brokers would get paid margin interest. They would also get interest on stocks they lent out for short sales, in addition to borrowing fees. A few brokers would provide credit cards, interest-bearing savings accounts, and loans.

Premium Services

To make their commission offer better, many brokers give extra services like news updates and research. Brokers did well-offering wealth management and portfolio services.

They charge a percentage of your assets for their expertise, research, and personalized attention. These services include managing your money and planning for retirement.

They also help you organize your estate. Plus, there are affordable robo-advisors that use computer programs to help.

Payment for Order Flow

A lot of brokers get paid for sending their clients’ orders to particular exchanges and outside liquidity sources. Zero commission trading grew as a result, with trading apps using it as a major revenue stream. Read this guide to find out more about payment for order flow.

The Introduction of Zero Commission Stock Brokers

Even after deducting other revenue streams, commissions were not even the primary source of income for many brokers. When mobile app brokers came along, they said they were making the stock market accessible for young investors.

Zero-commission trading became the standard. Fintech companies brought in zero-commission trading to attract more people, and it caught on fast. A portion of their clientele in the discount brokerage sector also embraced zero-commission trading to stave off being replaced by fintech apps.

How Do Zero Commission Stock Brokers Make Money?

Zero-commission trading works by making agreements with other companies to handle trades for you. In exchange for a commission or fee based on volume.

Zero-commission brokers make deals to send their customers’ trades to specific providers. The order flow arrangements yielded substantial enough revenues to run the business on this model.

The Benefits of Zero Commission Brokers

Saving money on commissions is the clear advantage of zero-commission brokers. These brokers cater to occasional investors. Their platforms are easy to use, making it simple for regular and new investors to get started.

Compared to more complex trading platforms, it was less intimidating due to its simple interface and ease of use. This made zero-commission brokers the top choice for new traders. They were great for beginners who didn’t know much about the risks.

In short, most long-term investors who make a few trades each year appreciate the simplicity and money saved by not paying commission fees.


In conclusion, while zero-fee share trading apps may seem like a dream come true for investors, it’s essential to understand that they still generate revenue through various means.

Whether it’s through payment for order flow, interest on cash balances, premium features, or other avenues, these platforms find ways to sustain themselves while offering free trading to users.


How can zero-fee trading apps afford to offer free trades?

These apps often utilize payment for order flow, where they receive compensation from market makers for directing trades to them, allowing them to offer commission-free trading to users.

Are there any hidden costs associated with zero-fee trading apps?

While the trades themselves may be free, users should be aware of potential costs such as foreign exchange fees, account maintenance fees, or fees for premium features.

Do zero-fee trading apps compromise security?

No, reputable zero-fee trading apps prioritize security measures such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and regulatory compliance to ensure the safety of users’ assets and personal information.

Can I make profits using zero-fee trading apps?

Yes, users can still profit from trading on these platforms through successful investments and trading strategies. However, it’s crucial to be mindful of other potential costs and risks associated with trading.

What should I consider before choosing a zero-fee trading app?

Before selecting a zero-fee trading app, consider factors such as security measures, available investment options, user experience, customer support, and any additional fees or charges that may apply to your specific trading activities.



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