December 11, 2014.
Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),
and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,
notice is hereby given that on November 28, 2014, The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (“NASDAQ”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been prepared by NASDAQ. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.
I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of the Substance of the Proposed Rule Change
NASDAQ proposes to amend Chapter XV, entitled “Options Pricing,” at Section 4 governing pricing for NASDAQ members using the NASDAQ Options Market (“NOM”), NASDAQ's facility for executing and routing standardized equity and index options. Specifically, the Exchange proposes to amend certain NOM professional user (“Professional User”) and enterprise license (“Enterprise License”) fees.
While the changes proposed herein are effective upon filing, the Exchange has designated that the amendments be operative on January 1, 2015.
II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change
In its filing with the Commission, NASDAQ included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for the proposed rule change and discussed Start Printed Page 75208any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. NASDAQ has prepared summaries, set forth in Sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.
A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change
The purpose of the proposed rule change is to amend certain NOM Professional User and Enterprise License fees.
Currently, the Exchange assesses recipients of the BONO options data feed a $5 monthly internal per Professional User fee, as well as a $5 monthly external per Professional User fee. The Exchange also assesses recipients of the ITTO options data feed a $10 monthly internal per Professional User fee, as well as a $10 monthly external per Professional User fee.
The Exchange proposes to establish a single monthly $40 per Professional User fee for internal use that will entitle such subscriber to access both the BONO and ITTO options data feeds combined. NASDAQ also proposes to establish a single monthly $40 per Professional User fee for external use that will entitle such subscriber to access both the BONO and ITTO options data feeds combined. The monthly Professional User fees per recipient covers the usage of both ITTO and BONO and recipients no longer will need to report their usage separately since they will no longer be assessed fees separately for each data product. For example, if a firm has one Professional Subscriber accessing both BONO and ITTO options data feeds for internal use, the firm would only report the Subscriber once and pay $40 ($1 for Non-Professional). The Exchange believes that by allowing access to multiple products for one price, it will allow for a broad dissemination of NOM data overall and a wider range of consumer choice. Moreover, this reduces the administrative burden on the firms since they no longer need to segregate the access of each system.
Additionally, the Exchange proposes to increase the existing monthly Enterprise License (Non-Display) Fee of $2,500 per firm to $10,000 per firm for access to the BONO and ITTO options data feeds combined. This pricing structure continues to offer two advantages. First, it establishes a monthly fee cap for distributors with large customer bases, effectively lowering average cost per user and marginal costs per user beyond the monthly breakpoint. Second, the Enterprise License offers administrative ease by eliminating the need for distributors to tally, track, and report to the Exchange a specific number of individual users every month. This is a voluntary option; distributors are permitted to choose between per user fee pricing and the Enterprise License.
The Exchange believes that although the above Professional User and Enterprise License fees are higher, the value of the BONO and ITTO options data feeds has increased significantly over the last three years. During this period NOM has witnessed strong growth both in terms of the number of listings, as well as trading market share. Specifically, NOM listings increased from 663 as of June 2011 to over 2,700 today while NOM's trading market share jumped more than 250% from July 2011 to July 2014 according to OCC data. Also, NOM technological enhancements in 2011 (referred to as NOM 2.0) expanded NOM functionality through the introduction of new versions of market data specifications in an uncompressed, binary format. Additionally, NOM's market data specifications now are the same as the market data specifications on both the NASDAQ OMX PHLX LLC and NASDAQ OMX BX, Inc. exchanges. The commonality among the market data specifications across these three markets provide for greatly increased efficiency to firms by allowing them to leverage the development work on one market across all of three markets.
2. Statutory Basis
The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of Section 6 of the Act,
in general, and with Section 6(b)(4) and 6(b)(5) of the Act,
in particular, in that it provides an equitable allocation of reasonable fees among Subscribers and recipients of NASDAQ data and is not designed to permit unfair discrimination between them. NASDAQ'S proposal to establish a single monthly $40 per Professional User fee for internal use and a separate single monthly $40 per Professional User fee for external use that will entitle such subscriber to access both the BONO and ITTO options data feeds combined reflects an equitable allocation of reasonable fees. The Commission has long recognized the fair and equitable and not unreasonably discriminatory nature of assessing different fees for Professional and Non-Professional users of the same data. NASDAQ also believes it is equitable to assess a higher fee per Professional User than to an ordinary non-professional user due to the enhanced flexibility and lower overall costs that it offers Distributors.
NASDAQ believes that the increase to the Enterprise License Fee from the existing monthly fee of $2,500 per firm to $10,000 per firm for access to the BONO and ITTO options data feeds combined is fair and equitable and not unreasonably discriminatory. Enterprise Licenses have long been accepted as an economically efficient form of volume discount for the heaviest users of market data (see Rule 7023 enterprise licenses). The value of the BONO and ITTO options data feeds has increased significantly over the last three years and NASDAQ notes that the Enterprise License Fee is entirely optional in that NASDAQ is not required to offer it and Distributors are not required to pay it. Accordingly, Distributors and users can discontinue use at any time and for any reason, including due to an assessment of the reasonableness of fees charged.
In adopting Regulation NMS, the Commission granted self-regulatory organizations and broker-dealers increased authority and flexibility to offer new and unique market data to the public.
The Commission concluded that Regulation NMS—by deregulating the market in proprietary data—would itself further the Act's goals of facilitating efficiency and competition:
[E]fficiency is promoted when broker-dealers who do not need the data beyond the prices, sizes, market center identifications of the NBBO and consolidated last sale information are not required to receive (and pay for) such data. The Commission also believes that efficiency is promoted when broker-dealers may choose to receive (and pay for) additional market data based on their own internal analysis of the need for such data.
By removing “unnecessary regulatory restrictions” on the ability of exchanges to sell their own data, Regulation NMS advanced the goals of the Act and the principles reflected in its legislative history. If the free market should determine whether proprietary data is sold to broker-dealers at all, it follows that the price at which such data is sold should be set by the market as well.
On July 21, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 4173, the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Start Printed Page 75209Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank Act”), which amended Section 19 of the Act. Among other things, Section 916 of the Dodd-Frank Act amended paragraph (A) of Section 19(b)(3) of the Act by inserting the phrase “on any person, whether or not the person is a member of the self-regulatory organization” after “due, fee or other charge imposed by the self-regulatory organization.” As a result, all self-regulatory organization (“SRO”) rule proposals establishing or changing dues, fees, or other charges are immediately effective upon filing regardless of whether such dues, fees, or other charges are imposed on members of the SRO, non-members, or both. Section 916 further amended paragraph (C) of Section 19(b)(3) of the Act to read, in pertinent part, “At any time within the 60-day period beginning on the date of filing of such a proposed rule change in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) [of Section 19(b)], the Commission summarily may temporarily suspend the change in the rules of the self-regulatory organization made thereby, if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of this title. If the Commission takes such action, the Commission shall institute proceedings under paragraph (2)(B) [of Section 19(b)] to determine whether the proposed rule should be approved or disapproved.”
The decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in NetCoalition v. SEC, 615 F.3d 525 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (“NetCoalition I”), upheld the Commission's reliance upon competitive markets to set reasonable and equitably allocated fees for market data. “In fact, the legislative history indicates that the Congress intended that the market system `evolve through the interplay of competitive forces as unnecessary regulatory restrictions are removed' and that the SEC wield its regulatory power `in those situations where competition may not be sufficient,' such as in the creation of a `consolidated transactional reporting system.' NetCoalition I, at 535 (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 94-229, at 92 (1975), as reprinted in 1975 U.S.C.C.A.N. 321, 323).
For the reasons stated above, NASDAQ believes that the allocation of the proposed fee is fair and equitable in accordance with Section 6(b)(4) of the Act, and not unreasonably discriminatory in accordance with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act. As described above, the proposed fee is based on pricing conventions and distinctions that exist in NASDAQ's current fee schedule. These distinctions are each based on principles of fairness and equity that have helped for many years to maintain fair, equitable, and not unreasonably discriminatory fees, and that apply with equal or greater force to the current proposal.
As described in greater detail below, if NASDAQ has calculated improperly and the market deems the proposed fees to be unfair, inequitable, or unreasonably discriminatory, firms can discontinue the use of their data because the proposed product is entirely optional to all parties. Firms are not required to purchase data and NASDAQ is not required to make data available or to offer specific pricing alternatives for potential purchases. NASDAQ can discontinue offering a pricing alternative (as it has in the past) and firms can discontinue their use at any time and for any reason (as they often do), including due to their assessment of the reasonableness of fees charged. NASDAQ continues to establish and revise pricing policies aimed at increasing fairness and equitable allocation of fees among Subscribers.
NASDAQ believes that periodically it must adjust fees to reflect market forces and NASDAQ believes it is an appropriate time to adjust this fee. This also reflects that the market for this Depth-of-Book information is highly competitive and continually evolves as products develop and change.
B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition
The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act, as amended. Notwithstanding its determination that the Commission may rely upon competition to establish fair and equitably allocated fees for market data, the NetCoalition court found that the Commission had not, in that case, compiled a record that adequately supported its conclusion that the market for the data at issue in the case was competitive. NASDAQ believes that a record may readily be established to demonstrate the competitive nature of the market in question.
There is intense competition between trading platforms that provide transaction execution and routing services and proprietary data products. Transaction execution and proprietary data products are complementary in that market data is both an input and a byproduct of the execution service. In fact, market data and trade execution are a paradigmatic example of joint products with joint costs. Data products are valuable to many end Subscribers only insofar as they provide information that end Subscribers expect will assist them or their customers in making trading decisions.
The costs of producing market data include not only the costs of the data distribution infrastructure, but also the costs of designing, maintaining, and operating the exchange's transaction execution platform and the cost of regulating the exchange to ensure its fair operation and maintain investor confidence. The total return that a trading platform earns reflects the revenues it receives from both products and the joint costs it incurs. Moreover, an exchange's customers view the costs of transaction executions and of data as a unified cost of doing business with the exchange. A broker-dealer will direct orders to a particular exchange only if the expected revenues from executing trades on the exchange exceed net transaction execution costs and the cost of data that the broker-dealer chooses to buy to support its trading decisions (or those of its customers). The choice of data products is, in turn, a product of the value of the products in making profitable trading decisions. If the cost of the product exceeds its expected value, the broker-dealer will choose not to buy it. Moreover, as a broker-dealer chooses to direct fewer orders to a particular exchange, the value of the product to that broker-dealer decreases, for two reasons. First, the product will contain less information, because executions of the broker-dealer's orders will not be reflected in it. Second, and perhaps more important, the product will be less valuable to that broker-dealer because it does not provide information about the venue to which it is directing its orders. Data from the competing venue to which the broker-dealer is directing orders will become correspondingly more valuable.
Thus, an increase in the fees charged for either transactions or data has the potential to impair revenues from both products. “No one disputes that competition for order flow is `fierce'.” NetCoalition at 24. However, the existence of fierce competition for order flow implies a high degree of price sensitivity on the part of broker-dealers with order flow, since they may readily reduce costs by directing orders toward the lowest-cost trading venues. A broker-dealer that shifted its order flow from one platform to another in response to order execution price differentials would both reduce the value of that platform's market data and reduce its own need to consume data Start Printed Page 75210from the disfavored platform. Similarly, if a platform increases its market data fees, the change will affect the overall cost of doing business with the platform, and affected broker-dealers will assess whether they can lower their trading costs by directing orders elsewhere and thereby lessening the need for the more expensive data.
Analyzing the cost of market data distribution in isolation from the cost of all of the inputs supporting the creation of market data will inevitably underestimate the cost of the data. Thus, because it is impossible to create data without a fast, technologically robust, and well-regulated execution system, system costs and regulatory costs affect the price of market data. It would be equally misleading, however, to attribute all of the exchange's costs to the market data portion of an exchange's joint product. Rather, all of the exchange's costs are incurred for the unified purposes of attracting order flow, executing and/or routing orders, and generating and selling data about market activity. The total return that an exchange earns reflects the revenues it receives from the joint products and the total costs of the joint products.
Competition among trading platforms can be expected to constrain the aggregate return each platform earns from the sale of its joint products, but different platforms may choose from a range of possible, and equally reasonable, pricing strategies as the means of recovering total costs. For example, some platforms may choose to pay rebates to attract orders, charge relatively low prices for market information (or provide information free of charge) and charge relatively high prices for accessing posted liquidity. Other platforms may choose a strategy of paying lower rebates (or no rebates) to attract orders, setting relatively high prices for market information, and setting relatively low prices for accessing posted liquidity. In this environment, there is no economic basis for regulating maximum prices for one of the joint products in an industry in which suppliers face competitive constraints with regard to the joint offering. This would be akin to strictly regulating the price that an automobile manufacturer can charge for car sound systems despite the existence of a highly competitive market for cars and the availability of after-market alternatives to the manufacturer-supplied system.
The market for market data products is competitive and inherently contestable because there is fierce competition for the inputs necessary to the creation of proprietary data and strict pricing discipline for the proprietary products themselves. Numerous exchanges compete with each other for listings, trades, and market data itself, providing virtually limitless opportunities for entrepreneurs who wish to produce and distribute their own market data. This proprietary data is produced by each individual exchange, as well as other entities, in a vigorously competitive market.
Broker-dealers currently have numerous alternative venues for their order flow, including thirteen SRO markets, as well as internalizing broker-dealers (“BDs”) and various forms of alternative trading systems (“ATSs”), including dark pools and electronic communication networks (“ECNs”). Each SRO market competes to produce transaction reports via trade executions, and two FINRA-regulated Trade Reporting Facilities (“TRFs”) compete to attract internalized transaction reports. Competitive markets for order flow, executions, and transaction reports provide pricing discipline for the inputs of proprietary data products.
The large number of SROs, TRFs, BDs, and ATSs that currently produce proprietary data or are currently capable of producing it provides further pricing discipline for proprietary data products. Each SRO, TRF, ATS, and BD is currently permitted to produce proprietary data products, and many currently do or have announced plans to do so, including NASDAQ, New York Stock Exchange LLC (“NYSE”), NYSE MKT LLC, NYSE Arca LLC, and BATS Exchange, Inc. (“BATS”).
Any ATS or BD can combine with any other ATS, BD, or multiple ATSs or BDs to produce joint proprietary data products. Additionally, order routers and market data vendors can facilitate single or multiple broker-dealers' production of proprietary data products. The potential sources of proprietary products are virtually limitless.
The fact that proprietary data from ATSs, BDs, and vendors can by-pass SROs is significant in two respects. First, non-SROs can compete directly with SROs for the production and sale of proprietary data products, as BATS and Arca did before registering as exchanges by publishing data on the Internet. Second, because a single order or transaction report can appear in an SRO proprietary product, a non-SRO proprietary product, or both, the data available in proprietary products is exponentially greater than the actual number of orders and transaction reports that exist in the marketplace.
Market data vendors provide another form of price discipline for proprietary data products because they control the primary means of access to end Subscribers. Vendors impose price restraints based upon their business models. For example, vendors such as Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters that assess a surcharge on data they sell may refuse to offer proprietary products that end Subscribers will not purchase in sufficient numbers. Internet portals, such as Google, impose a discipline by providing only data that will enable them to attract “eyeballs” that contribute to their advertising revenue. Retail broker-dealers, such as Schwab and Fidelity, offer their customers proprietary data only if it promotes trading and generates sufficient commission revenue. Although the business models may differ, these vendors' pricing discipline is the same: They can simply refuse to purchase any proprietary data product that fails to provide sufficient value. NASDAQ and other producers of proprietary data products must understand and respond to these varying business models and pricing disciplines in order to market proprietary data products successfully.
In addition to the competition and price discipline described above, the market for proprietary data products is also highly contestable because market entry is rapid, inexpensive, and profitable. The history of electronic trading is replete with examples of entrants that swiftly grew into some of the largest electronic trading platforms and proprietary data producers: Archipelago, Bloomberg Tradebook, Island, RediBook, Attain, TracECN and BATS Trading. A proliferation of dark pools and other ATSs operate profitably with fragmentary shares of consolidated market volume.
Regulation NMS, by deregulating the market for proprietary data, has increased the contestability of that market. While broker-dealers have previously published their proprietary data individually, Regulation NMS encourages market data vendors and broker-dealers to produce proprietary products cooperatively in a manner never before possible. Multiple market data vendors already have the capability to aggregate data and disseminate it on a profitable scale, including Bloomberg, and Thomson Reuters.
The vigor of competition for information is significant. NASDAQ has made a determination to adjust the fees associated with these products in order to reflect more accurately the value of its products and the investments made to enhance them, as well as to keep pace with changes in the industry and evolving customer needs. These products are entirely optional and are geared towards attracting new Start Printed Page 75211customers, as well as retaining existing customers.
The Exchange has witnessed competitors creating new products and innovative pricing in this space over the course of the past year. NASDAQ continues to see firms challenge its pricing on the basis of the Exchange's explicit fees being higher than the zero-priced fees from other competitors such as BATS. In all cases, firms make decisions on how much and what types of data to consume on the basis of the total cost of interacting with NASDAQ or other exchanges. Of course, the explicit data fees are but one factor in a total platform analysis. Some competitors have lower transactions fees and higher data fees, and others are vice versa. For example, NOM offers one distributor fee which allows firms to access both the BONO and ITTO data feeds. The market for this information is highly competitive and continually evolves as products develop and change.
C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants, or Others
Written comments were neither solicited nor received.
III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action
The foregoing rule change has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A)(ii) of the Act.
At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule change, the Commission summarily may temporarily suspend such rule change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. If the Commission takes such action, the Commission shall institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule should be approved or disapproved.
IV. Solicitation of Comments
Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change, as amended, is consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
- Send paper comments in triplicate to Brent J. Fields, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090.
All submissions should refer to File Number SR-NASDAQ-2014-119. This file number should be included on the subject line if email is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission's Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro.shtml). Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for Web site viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal offices of the Exchange. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR-NASDAQ-2014-119, and should be submitted on or before January 7, 2015.
For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.
Kevin M. O'Neill,
[FR Doc. 2014-29499 Filed 12-16-14; 8:45 am]
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