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Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms
Electronic Communication Network
ECN. An electronic system that brings buyers and sellers together for the electronic execution of trades. It disseminates information to interested parties about the orders entered into the network and allows these orders to be executed. Electronic Communications Networks (ECNs) represent orders in NASDAQ stocks; they internally match buy and sell orders or represent the highest bid prices and lowest ask prices on the open market. The benefits an investor gets from trading with an ECN include after-hours trading, avoiding market makers (and their spreads), and anonymity (which is often important for large trades).