GameStop and Bitcoin Renewed a Push to Digitize the Stock Market

Imagine a world where you could buy stocks, bonds, derivatives, cryptocurrencies or even pieces of art, all on one exchange, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world. On this exchange, trades occur directly between two investors instead of through a complex latticework of brokers, clearinghouses and other middlemen and gatekeepers. They settle, or close, almost instantly, instead of taking up to two days. The system is cheaper, more transparent and ostensibly more open. It is also potentially more volatile and risky for investors; profits can turn into losses in the wink of an eye at any time of the day or night. Entrepreneurs have for years dreamed of using blockchain technology, the concepts and software underpinning bitcoin, to enable digital trading of virtually any asset. Today the idea seems less far-fetched than ever. When trading of videogame retailer GameStop Corp. exploded earlier this year,…

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