Regulatory Policies on Realtime & 15-minute Delayed US Market Data
Key things you need to know as a data consumer
If you only have 30 seconds for this article, please read the following:
- Realtime and 15-minute delayed US stock market data is regulated by the stock exchanges (see policies from Nasdaq), FINRA, and the SEC. A data provider must be licensed by the exchanges before it can distribute the information to data recipients / consumers like you.
- Alpha Vantage is a Nasdaq-licensed provider of realtime and 15-minute delayed US market data. Based on our internal benchmarks, we also provide one of the most affordable exchange-licensed data offerings in the industry.
- If you find other data sources that offer “free” realtime or 15-minute delayed data, please be vigilant and ensure they are properly licensed by the exchanges to minimize the risk of opening yourself up to fines, penalties, or other legal actions from the exchanges or the regulatory bodies.
- By sourcing data from Alpha Vantage, you will enjoy our industry-leading data quality, affordability, and legal compliance all in one.
Please read on for more detailed FAQs.
❚ Question: I have found a data provider that offers “free” realtime US market data. What's happening there? Can I trust it?
Below are two likely scenarios.
Scenario #1 (high probability): that provider is illegally redistributing real-time and/or 15-minute delayed US market data. This typically happens when a data provider is stealing or scraping data from a legitimate data source or from a public website. The unlicensed provider is bound to be shut down by the exchanges (or by the data sources it is stealing/scraping the data from) in the near future. The data quality and system stability of those unlicensed providers are also typically low or non-existent. Please stay away from these providers as best as you can.
Scenario #2 (less common): in addition to NASDAQ and NYSE, there are actually 10+ other stock exchanges in the United States, and some of them may offer free realtime data for trading activities that take place on their own exchanges. Even if such data may be free, please note that these smaller exchanges typically cover less than 5% of the total trading volume in the US market. Such a low market coverage can make their data vastly different / inaccurate when compared to the official market data. In fact, making investment decisions off of low-market-coverage datasets (i.e., one that doesn't include NASDAQ or NYSE trading activities) could incur significant financial loss to you due to data inaccuracies and false patterns.
💡 By sourcing data from an exchange-licensed provider such as Alpha Vantage, you will avoid both scenarios above and enjoy our industry-leading data quality, affordability, and legal compliance all in one.
@ Nasdaq Tower, Time Square, New York City
❚ Question: Alright, I hear you. How do I check if a particular data provider is actually licensed by the exchanges or not?
One proven way is to go to the official Nasdaq Datafeed Approval Request form and scroll down to the “DATAFEED INFORMATION > Data Provider” field (see screenshot below).
In the dropdown menu, you will see our company (Alpha Vantage Inc.) listed as a licensed data provider there.
If the data provider you are interested in is not listed there, it is still possible that the provider may be a legitimate one, but an “alarm bell” in your mind should start ringing and you are advised to be extra, extra careful to minimize any fees, penalties, or other potential legal liabilities to yourself.
❚ Question: Got it! I would like to get started with Alpha Vantage. What are the next steps?
Alpha Vantage provides one of the most affordable exchange-licensed data offerings in the industry. Getting started is easy.
If you would like to use realtime or 15-minute delayed US market data for personal, non-commercial use, you can simply subscribe to one of our premium membership plans. Upon subscription, you will be able to immediately view the entitlement instructions for realtime and 15-minute delayed US market data via our Alpha X Terminal © display portal.
If you would like to use realtime or 15-minute delayed US market data for business/commercial purposes, please contact us and we will walk you through the data onboarding process.