What Is Instinet?

What Is Instinet?

3 Min.

Instinet, Wall Street's oldest ECN, is a private exchange for trading securities not accessible by the public. It's considered a dark pool, intended to reduce volatility by obscuring large trades.


Instinet functions as a global financial service specializing in electronic securities order matching, trading, and information provision. This platform caters primarily to institutional traders and investors, enabling them to exhibit bids, offer stock quotes, and seamlessly engage in transactions. Representing a prime instance of a dark liquidity pool, Instinet operates as an exclusive marketplace for trading securities, shielded from public access. The name itself underscores the absence of transparency and its role in facilitating sizeable block trades for institutional investors, minimizing market impact. According to the SEC, the count of registered Alternative Trading Systems, or dark pools, reached 70 by August 2023.

Instinet Explained

Instinet, an agent-exclusive broker, doubles as the autonomous equity trading division under Nomura Group. It administers transactions for diverse entities like hedge funds, insurance firms, and pension funds, alluding to its institutional role.

This corporation in New York extends comprehensive investment insights, full-scale trade desks, advanced algorithmic trading tactics, distinctive specialized liquidity, and systematic solutions. These provisions streamline clientele investment processes effectively.

Recognized for pioneering off-market trade alternatives, Instinet's legacy spans its iconic "green screen" terminals flourishing in the 80s and 90s. Additionally, it holds credit for initiating Chi-X Europe and Chi-X Global.

Instinet's Founders and Evolution 

Established by Jerome M. Pustilnik and Herbert R. Behrens, Instinet emerged in 1967 as Institutional Networks Corp. It aimed to rival the NYSE by creating seamless computer links that unite banks, mutual funds, and insurers, eliminating delays and intermediaries.

Pioneering Wall Street's earliest Electronic Communications Network (ECN), Instinet, upon its 1987 acquisition by Reuters Group, spearheaded the ECN movement. This trend posed considerable competition to traditional stock exchanges.

In 2003, Inet ECN and Instinet separated their ECN and brokerage operations. Subsequently, Nasdaq acquired Inet ECN in 2005, while Instinet found new ownership through a private equity entity.

Nomura's Scope

In a significant move in February 2007, Nomura acquired Instinet from the private equity firm Silver Lake for a substantial $1.2 billion. Nomura, an expansive global financial services entity spanning 30 countries and regions, maintains its position. By 2020, Instinet had aligned itself as an autonomous subsidiary of Nomura, overseen by CEO Ralston Roberts. Notably, Instinet credited itself with coining the term "fintech" in 1969, pioneering the concept of financial technology. Underlining their commitment to progress, 2022 witnessed Instinet and Nomura joining forces to secure FIS Execution Services. This strategic acquisition aimed to harness advanced algorithmic trading technology and intellectual assets, enhancing execution quality, minimizing information exposure, and reducing transaction costs for clients.


Instinet, as Wall Street's oldest ECN, exemplifies the evolution of financial trading. Founded in 1967 by Pustilnik and Behrens, it has redefined securities trading and pioneered the term "fintech." Now under Nomura Group, spanning 30 countries, Instinet remains a vital player. Its recent acquisition of FIS Execution Services reflects its commitment to innovation. Instinet's legacy and adaptability continue to shape the trading landscape, making it a key force in modern finance.

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