In September 2019, Interactive Brokers introduced IBKR Lite, a zero-commission trading platform. Other trading platforms like Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-Trade, and many others shortly followed suit. But how does a brokerage business survive without commissions? What’s the catch here?

In this article, we will analyze Interactive Brokers business model to find out more.

Business model

Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. is an electronic brokerage firm. Through their platforms IBKR Pro and IBKR Lite, investors can gain access to 135 markets in 33 countries and trade in 24 different currencies.

Source: Interactive Brokers 2019 annual report

Interactive Brokers earned 93% of its $1.94 billion revenue in 2019 from commissions and net interest income. They also generate revenue from the payment of order flow though this is not one of their key business segments. However, I have included it so we have a good understanding of how they make money off their commission-free platform.