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Did you know that in 1981 a gigabyte of data cost $300,000 to store?
That shocking statistic (particularly for those of us who were around in 1981) gives an insight into the ubiquity of the digital realm in our day to day lives. There’s no denying that digital technology has irrevocably changed the world around us. It has made entrepreneurship more accessible, with men and women all over the world running lucrative businesses from their laptops and mobile devices.
It has revolutionized the way in which we consume our media, making vinyl the choice of only the most uber-hip subcultures. It’s also transformed the way we shop and what we do with our money. Checks have become a quaint anachronism used only by the elderly and what once required a trip to the bank now requires only a few judicious taps on an app.
The world of investment has also been forever altered by the advent of digital technologies. In most ways this has been for the better… But in some it has been for the worse.
Stocks can be traded faster and in real time
There was a time when the average investor faced a race against time to buy or sell their stocks in accordance with a crest or dip in a commodity’s value. Today, investors can track the value of their stocks online and trade them in a matter of minutes or (in the case of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Litecoin) even seconds.
Investors are better informed
There was a time when investors were solely reliant on their brokers, but the digital era has facilitated complete transparency with digital applications enabling investors to keep tabs on their entire portfolio in real time.
Jobs have been created
Any technological shift that creates specialist jobs is an obvious boon for the economy. While it’s tempting to think of day traders as obnoxious and self-interested Jordan Belfort types shouting obscenities across a busy trading floor the reality is very different. Most day traders work from home and are extremely well educated people who earn high and pay their taxes.
There are more investors than ever
The accessibility of the digital market has led to an exponential boom in the number of ordinary people investing either independently or through brokers. The wealth of free information has emboldened people to learn more about the markets and invest accordingly. Though this is great in principle it has an unfortunate consequence.
Investors no longer need brokers
The Wolf of Wall Street has soured the public perception of brokers but the truth is that a good broker can play a huge part in making or breaking your fortunes in the world of investment. Just because investors can trade without brokers doesn’t necessarily mean they should. Markets are complex and unpredictable beasts and can require years of study to be completely understood. Investing in Forex without a trusted forex broker, for example, can be a folly for neophyte traders. Brokers are just like any other expert and their advice is pretty much always worth paying for.
With great strides in accessibility and transparency facilitated by the digital realms, here’s hoping that the next digital revolution will lead to a whole new generation of savvy investors.