Online stock trading platforms, just like digital and mobile banking, are offshoots of the internet and mobile technologies.
We see more and more Filipinos trading and investing in stocks at their fingertips, i.e., without making any physical or telephone transactions with stockbrokers.
Before, traders and investors would phone their brokers who would place the buy or sell orders and manually execute these trades on their behalf. Prior to the telephones, physical presence at the exchange itself was even required.
Online Stock Trading Platform
An online stock trading platform is a web-based or mobile-based software that allows stock traders and investors to trade stocks or securities.
It allows them to open, close, and manage stock market positions online and real time through market intermediaries, such as the stockbrokerage firms, that run the platforms.
Apart from the trading tools, the stock trading platforms also offer easy online enrollment, real-time streaming of quotes, live news feeds, knowledge-based resources, and proprietary market research.
In the Philippines, the top stockbrokerage firms that provide these online trading platforms are First Metro Securities, COL Financial, Philstocks Financials, BDO Securities, BPI Securities, and RCBC Securities, among others.
Pros of Online Stock Trading Platforms
Most local stock traders and investors might have tried opening an account in one or two of these platforms and can always say that they all have their strengths and weaknesses for contrast.
But generally, these are nine (9) of the many advantages (pros) of using an online stock trading platform:
- You may enjoy the lower fees and commissions over transactions with traditional brick-and-mortar brokerage firms.
- You may execute your buy and sell orders almost immediately or anytime you want.
- You may have the control and flexibility over your portfolio, i.e., rebalancing and diversifying it.
- You may avoid brokerage bias and get transparent market trends.
- You may get an access to voluminous knowledge-based resources, proprietary market research, and other helpful tools.
- You may easily monitor your stock transactions and positions real time.
- You may start your stock trading or investing with a small capital, i.e., sometimes without minimum amount required.
- You may enroll in automated buy-and-sell triggers and other notifications.
- You may add to your capital or withdraw your investments in an instant.
Cons of Online Stock Trading Platforms
On the other hand, these are the nine (9) common disadvantages (cons):
- You are on your own, and you may make impulsive stock trading and investing decisions given the convenience and speed of transactions.
- Your stock trading may disrupt your life balance and end you up in stress and frustrations.
- You may get caught up into an addictive behavior, i.e., synonymous to gambling, and risky market speculations.
- You don’t develop any personal relationship with your broker amidst the digital anonymity.
- Your access to your portfolio is completely internet-dependent.
- Your broker’s proprietary market research and suggestions available on the platform may not always be bias-free.
- You may encounter computer errors, system failures, and glitches which may affect your buy and sell orders.
- You may just need more knowledge and skills in stock trading and investing more than you know.
- You may spend so much time monitoring your portfolio or timing the market.
Top 6 Online Stock Trading Platforms (Account Opening Requirements, Guides, and Quick Reviews)
In a quick summary and in most cases, opening an online stock trading account in the Philippines simply requires available internet connection and devices, accomplishing simple fill-out forms, Tax Identification Number (TIN), valid ID cards, bank account, contact details, and an email account.
To help you out, I have here the step-by-step guides on how to open an online stock trading account across the top, popular, or probably the best trading platforms in the country.
Quick Disclaimer — I am not affiliated with any of these brokerage firms, and however well-researched, informative, and practical these guides are, they do not necessarily constitute a professional or expert advice.
Still, you are encouraged to do your own research and make informed decisions about stock trading and investing — as this poses a high risk which may end you up losing your capital.
First Metro Securities PRO (FirstMetroSec PRO)
First Metro Securities (FirstMetroSec). It is the stock brokerage house of the Metrobank Group, one of the premier financial conglomerates in the Philippines with a diversified portfolio and a track record spanning over 60 years.
It is the market maker and authorized participant of the country’s first and only exchange traded fund (ETF), the First Metro Exchange-Traded Fund (FMETF), which provides diversification benefits of mutual funds with the trading flexibility of a stock.
It currently manages two online trading platforms – FirstMetroSec GO (ordinary clients) and FirstMetroSec PRO (exclusive clients). While GO comes with a mobile app already, PRO’s app development is currently ongoing.
Requirements. To open an online stock trading account with FirstMetroSec, you will need the following requirements:
- 1 valid ID
- photo of 3 specimen signatures on white paper
- proof of address
- proof of bank account
- active email address
- other requirements such as a proof of business or self-employment, TIN
- for foreign clients, local bank account, TIN, one valid government ID with clear signature with Immigrant Certificate of Registration and foreign passport, and Enhanced Due Diligence Form (EDD Form)
- other documents deemed necessary
Minimum Capital. FirstMetroSec account activation requires a minimum initial fund of PHP5,000 or $100.
Account Opening Process. If you’re already decided to open a stock trading account with FirstMetroSec, here’s your step-by-step guide:
- Visit firstmetrosec.com.ph and click Open Account.
- You will be asked if you are a Metrobank account holder or another bank depositor.
- Choose your account currency, PHP or USD, and account type whether Individual, Joint, or In-Trust For.
- Complete the form with your personal details.
- Verify your email address. Check the Online Registration Application reference number and the link to the next step.
- After you click the verification link, upload you’re the documents required. Only applications with complete documents will be processed.
- Wait for an approval email within 3 banking days.
- You may also email your lacking requirements to [email protected].
- Fund your account and start trading stocks.
To open an account via the FirstMetroSec Go mobile app, simple follow these steps:
- Download and install FirstMetroSec Go app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
- Launch the app, then tap Sign Up Now to start your account application.
- Easily set up your account by filling in all the necessary information, uploading the required documents, and completing the selfie verification.
Quick Review. FirstMetroSec PRO receives generally positive reviews, and it’s described as by far the most advanced online stock trading platform in the Philippines.
It has the premium features that were previously available only to trading professionals. It has an intuitive interface that provides access to closer market monitoring, faster trading, and better portfolio management, among others — all designed for active traders.
However, this special platform is made available only for clients whose trade cumulative amount reaches PHP100K within the month or whose mutual fund or stock portfolio is least PHP200K. This PRO access is valid for one month and automatically renewed if criteria are maintained.
Its lighter version for ordinary clients, FirstMetroSec GO (still with PRO-inspired interface), comes already with a mobile app which is available for download on Google Play and Apple App Store.
COL Financial Group, Inc. (COL Financial)
COL Financial Group, Inc. (COL). Formerly CitisecOnline, it is one of the leading and fastest-growing publicly listed stockbrokerage firms in the Philippines, now with multi-billion-peso worth of consumer assets managed in its platform.
It provides an array of products and services including full-service online stock brokerage, wide selection of mutual funds in a single platform, professional equity advisory services, investing tools and functionalities, research support, investor education seminars, market updates and information-driven briefings, and customer support.
COL Financial is also the name of its web-based stock trading platform. As of this writing, there is no mobile app version of it yet.
Requirements. To open an online stock trading account with COL Financial, you will need the following requirements:
- 1 valid gov’t-issued ID with clear photo and signature
- bank account details
- TIN (for employed, self-employed, foreigners)
- SSS, GSIS, or CRN# (for locally employed)
- 3 specimen signatures on white paper
- any device with camera for selfie photo and video capture
- working email address
- for non-resident foreigners, 1 valid passport
- for resident-foreigners, 1 valid passport (plus ACR I-Card, SIRV, SRRV, or work permit from DOLE)
- for dual citizens, 1 valid passport and dual citizenship papers
- for US persons, 1 US government-issued ID and accomplished W9 or W8-BEN IRS Form
- for minors, birth certificate
- other documents deemed necessary
Minimum Capital. COL Financial currently offers three account options to choose from:
- COL Starter — an entry-level account requiring a minimum investment capital of PHP1,000
- COL Plus — ideal account for active traders with a minimum investment capital of PHP25,000
- COL Premium — best for premier investors who have a minimum investment capital of PHP1M
Account Opening Process. As soon as your requirements are complete and ready, do these steps to open your online stock trading account with COL Financial:
- Go to www.signup.colfinancial.com and click on Get Started button.
- Read the Online Securities Trading Agreement and hit Agree to continue.
- Complete the Identification Form with your name, mobile number, and email.
- Check your email for the verification instructions. Click on Verify Email.
- Enter the one-time password or OTP that you received via SMS, and click Verify, then Next to continue.
- Continue to Fill Up Details page. Select your account type, and fill out your personal and professional information, contact details, and financial or investment profile, client sustainability assessment (CSA), and bank information.
- Take photos and upload your valid ID and selfie. Complete also the simple video verification process.
- Wait for an email confirmation and book an appointment for a short video call.
- Receive an email containing your COL Financial account number and funding instructions. You are given three months to fund your online stock trading account.
Quick Review. COL Financial has proven a track record being one of the pioneers of online stock trading and investing in the country.
With its robust platform, small initial capital requirements, and extensive proprietary market research, COL Financial has been the go-to platform by stock market beginners as it is also widely recommended by financial advisors and bloggers.
It may be the best and most reliable online platform for long-term stock investors who do not have to engage in active day trading. It is only accessible via web and does not yet come with a more portable mobile app.
Active stock trading, however, may be hampered by occasional system slowdown and stability issues especially during rush or peak hours. Regular backend maintenance works are to be expected almost every after trading days, causing the website to be shortly inaccessible.
Philstocks Financials, Inc. (Philstocks)
Philstocks Financials, Inc. (Philstocks). Formerly Accord Capital Equities Corporation, it is a full-service brokerage firm incorporated in 2001.
Since its establishment, it has been at the forefront of providing precise and top-quality trading experience through its robust technology, high-quality service, and customer support.
It lauds its on-the-go, world-class, feature-packed, and state-of-the-art online trading platform (web-based and its mobile app version, Philstocks Mobile) that comes with reliable market research from daily notes to comprehensive trading guides and educational videos.
Requirements. To open an online stock trading account with Philstocks, you will need the following requirements:
- 2 valid IDs
- working email address and mobile number for verification
- clear selfie holding the valid ID
- for minors, NSO or PSA birth certificate and school ID, if any
- for resident aliens, valid passport, and any of the supporting documents such as ACR, SRRV, SIRV, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Dual Citizenship
- for non-resident aliens, valid passport, or Certificate of Residency Consularized (non-personal appearance)
- other documents deemed necessary
Minimum Capital. Philstocks account activation requires a minimum initial fund of PHP5,000.
Account Opening Process. Philstocks also offers a trial account for 7 days, but if you’re already decided to open a stock trading account, here’s your step-by-step guide:
- Visit www.philstocks.ph and look for Open an Account link. You may also just type this address on your browser —www.registration.philstocks.ph.
- Click on Let’s Begin. Read and accept all the Terms and Conditions.
- Choose between Individual Account and Joint Account.
- Fill out the necessary fields for your name, email address, and mobile number.
- Continue accomplishing all the online forms for your complete personal and professional information, bank details, and investment profile.
- Upload the photos of your valid IDs, selfie holding your ID, and a signature on a clean white sheet of paper.
- Finish it and check your email for notifications regarding the progress of your application and final requirements for account activation.
- Wait for the final approval, together with your account number and password via email.
- Fund your account and start trading stocks.
Quick Review. Philstocks’s major advantage over COL Financial is its fast and reliable mobile application available for download and installation from Google Play and Apple App Store.
It has both positive reviews mostly about its convenience and features, and some negative ones which accordingly are almost negligible and which Philstocks is continuously addressing.
Before FirstMetroSec PRO was introduced, COL Financial platform was mostly recommended for stock investors, while traders preferred Philstocks because of the ease and speed of executing trades. FirstMetroSec and Philstocks are thus more inclined to mobile technology innovations.
BPI Securities Corporation (BPI Trade)
BPI Securities Corporation. It is the stock brokerage arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) that is primarily engaged in the purchase and sale of shares of publicly listed companies at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).
Its web-based online stock trading platform, BPI Trade, enables clients to post online orders to the exchange, offers real-time stock market quotes and comprehensive research.
Requirements. To open an online stock trading account with BPI Trade, you will need the following requirements:
- signed BPI Trade Client Account Information Form
- 1 valid ID
- an existing BPI Savings or Checking Account under client’s name (Client should have an existing record in BPI)
- for foreigners, Alien Certificate Registration (ACR), valid and unexpired passport (If no ACR, Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) or any other IDs issued by the Bureau of Immigration)
- for dual citizens, local and international passports
- other documents such as proof of financial capability, source of income and the likes may also be required as deemed necessary
Minimum Capital. There is NO minimum investment required to open a BPI Trade account. However, before you can purchase any shares of stock, you must first deposit funds into your BPI Trade Settlement Account (SETA).
Account Opening Process. If you are maintaining a BPI account, and you’re already decided to open a stock trading account with BPI Trade, here’s your step-by-step guide:
- You need a BPI bank deposit account to open a BPI Trade account.
- Go to www.bpitrade.com and click Open an Account.
- Fill out the BPI Trade Client Account Information Form.
- Download the accomplished form, print, and sign three (3) times on the lines provided.
- Submit the scanned form and other requirements to [email protected].
- You may also submit the original form and other requirements to any BPI Branch near you or personally visit the BPI Securities Office.
- It usually takes three (3) banking days to process the opening of your BPI Trade account provided that submitted requirements are correct and complete.
- Once your application is approved and the account is opened, you will receive an email confirmation with your User ID.
- Fund your account. You may enroll your BPI Trade SETA in your BPI Online account and transfer funds from your other BPI or BPI Family Bank accounts.
Quick Review. BPI Trade may be the best platform option for BPI depositors as there is usually a seamless movement of funds between BPI banking and the trading accounts.
It may also be recommended for long-term stock traders, but day traders may encounter some issues related to speed in placing orders and occasional system outages which BPI is continuously addressing. At the same time, BPI Trade does not come yet with a mobile app version.
BDO Securities Corporation (BDO Securities)
BDO Securities Corporation. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of BDO Capital & Investment Corporation (BDO Capital).
BDO Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BDO Unibank, Inc. (BDO), the largest bank in the Philippines, is a full-service investment house with the following functions, among others — securities underwriting and trading, loan syndication, financial advisory, and private placement of debt and equity.
BDO Securities, the web-based and mobile app versions of its stock trading platform, allow stock, REITs, and ETFs through the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). It also comes with various trading tools, access to research reports, and real-time funding and withdrawals.
Requirements. To open an online stock trading account with BDO Securities, you will need the following requirements:
- 1 to 2 valid IDs with photo and signature
- selfie holding the valid IDs
- photo of 3 signatures on white paper
- Zoom videocall for account opening evaluation
- working email and contact details
- PHP2,000 for ATM and PHP5,000 for passbook savings account
- other documents may be required upon application especially for foreigners
Minimum Capital. There is NO maintaining balance needed. However, an account without any cash flows (either deposits or withdrawals) for two (2) years will be placed in the inactive list.
Account Opening Process. You must have a BDO Online Banking account to open a BDO Securities stock trading account. If you’re already decided to open a stock trading account, here’s your step-by-step guide:
- Visit the official website of BDO Securities at www.bdo.com.ph/securities/.
- Click on Sign Up or Create an Account button.
- Log in using your BDO Online Banking username and password.
- Read and agree to the Terms and Conditions.
- Select your beneficiary account, your BDO account itself.
- Complete the fill-out forms — Investor Profile, Investor Suitability, and Enrollment Validation.
- Review your details and click Submit.
- Wait for an email and receive your BDO Securities settlement account number and customer code.
- Fund your account and start stock trading.
Quick Review. BDO Securities offers a great advantage to many BDO Unibank depositors who can make seamless fund transfers between the bank account and the trading platform.
Its web-based platform has been improved over the years but may still lag a little behind its other market competitors particularly in terms of transaction speed and system stability which are normally the top considerations of active day traders.
Its mobile app, BDO Securities Mobile App, on the other hand, also has a lot to improve in terms of its interface, features, and speed, but serves its purpose for beginners and long-term investors.
RCBC Securities, Inc. (RCBC ezTrade)
RCBC Securities, Inc. (RSEC). It is the stockbrokerage unit of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), one of the largest private universal banks and a member of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC).
It is a subsidiary of RCBC Capital Corporation (RCAP), which is wholly owned by RCBC.
RCBC ezTrade and RCBC ezTrade Gold – are two of its stock trading platforms. RCBC ezTarde also comes with a mobile app version, the RCBC ezTrade Mobile.
Requirements. To open an online stock trading account with RCBC ezTrade, you will need the following requirements:
- 1 valid ID (Driver’s License, SSS, and PRC. Other IDs submitted will undergo a Zoom interview)
- a working camera on your computer or device is recommended for your ID verification, but it is not required. If you do not have a camera, your ID verification will be done via Zoom call, and you can use your mobile phone or tablet for this.
- mobile number (for OTP verification)
- active email address (for account verification)
- 3 specimen signatures on a clean sheet of paper
- Tax Identification Number (TIN)
- for foreigners, original current passport, Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR), and others deemed necessary
Minimum Capital. There is NO minimum deposit amount required to open an RCBC ezTrade stock trading account.
Account Opening Process. If you’re already decided to open a stock trading account with RCBC ezTrade, here’s your step-by-step guide:
- Visit www.rcbcsec.com and click on Open an Account.
- Read and Agree to the RCBC ezTrade Agreement.
- Select the type of account you wish to open and provide your contact details
- Enter the OTP sent to your registered mobile number. (You may also opt to send the OTP via Email.)
- Create your own unique 8–15-digit alphanumeric Username and Password (Do not use any special characters).
- Fill out the online forms. Once you’ve reached the Liveness and ID Verification section, click the Start button to capture a live photo of yourself. If you do not have a working camera, you may click ‘Upload an Image’ instead and you will be scheduled for an online interview via zoom.
- Upload a picture of the front and back of your valid ID and specimen signatures.
- Once you click on submit, you will receive an email to verify your account and email address. Click on the link provided. This will serve as your account verification.
- Processing of your account may take 2-3 business days. You will be notified via email once your account is approved.
Quick Review. RCBC ezTrade comes with web-based and mobile app versions which are both well-designed and feature-packed just like any other stock trading platforms.
Not as popular as the other platforms, its mobile app version receives mostly positive reviews particularly in terms of ease of use, speed of transactions, and system stability.
Other Online Stock Trading Platforms to Try
Aside from the six popular online stock trading platforms, more and more stock traders and investors are also into trying other alternative platforms which offer reliable services and advanced technologies, and these include:
AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. (AAA Equities). It has been a brokerage with the Philippine Stock Exchange since 1989. It is the first and only broker that offers automatic order triggers across your desktop, mobile phone, and tablet called Conditional Orders.
Its platform, AAA Equities, comes in a web version and a mobile application available on Google Play and Apple App Store.
AB Capital Group (AB Capital). It is one of the Philippines’ leading financial services institutions focused on the capital markets.
AB Capital & Investment Corporation (ABCIC) is an investment house that has built its capability on three major areas of strength: corporate finance, fixed-income securities dealership, and fund management. AB Capital Securities, Inc. (ABCSI) is one of the oldest stock brokerage houses in the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Apart from its web version, it also offers a mobile app, AB Capital Mobile.
2Trade Asia (2TradeAsia). It is the licensed online arm of F. Yap Securities, Inc. (FYSI). It is a pioneer in online stock trading with a mission to develop an innovative and efficient online investment solution in the country.
It started in 2000 with the combination of relevant real-time stock market information and portfolio management capabilities. It pioneered the integration of trading, financial planning, and portfolio management.
Aside from the mobile app, it also offers 2TradeAsia Prime, a platform designed for active and advanced traders.
Timson Securities, Inc. (Timson Trade). As the successor broker of BNP Paribas, it is one of the leading stock brokerage firms in the Philippines and member of the Philippine Stock Exchange. It primarily caters to retail and institutional clients in both the Philippines and overseas.
Its web-based stock trading platform, Timson Trade, provides investors and traders with real-time market data and a user-friendly interface.
9 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of the Stock Market. This short article sheds light on the common fears and stigmas surrounding stock investing and puts forwards the advantages that most stock traders and investors enjoy.
How to Invest in Stocks [5-Step Guide for Filipino Beginners]. This article provides a helpful guide on how to start investing in stocks, from learning the basics of stocks to buying the first stocks and rebalancing portfolios.
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