Ca$htags and The Decentralization of Financial Information

There is no doubt that we live in an era where the generation and consumption of information has seen a tremendous acceleration. The rhythm with which it has grown can be described as nothing short of exponential, and certainly that does not exempt us from the obligation to be up to date with it.

The advance that has been generated thanks to the power of technology to processing, storing, and sharing of such information would not be complete had it not come along with a growth of its sources.

The ease of interconnection, as well as the communities that have been formed, all reinforced by the network effects, has generated a decentralization of the same.

Previously, the owner of a communication network was the bearer of truth and could disseminate its dearest version at its pace and convenience.

Delving into the world of economics and finance, sources of information held high entry barriers. Nowadays a retail investor can consult, not only the closing price of a certain stock, but he can access the periodic reports of financial information immediately, as well as be aware of the relevant events of a given company.

If an investor wants to see Ford’s quarterly report, she could look for that document on the company’s official website, commonly under the investor relations section, and download it. If someone would like to know what the price of Apple’s stock is, she could access a financial information portal, locate the ticker and consult it.

There are other specialized sources for monitoring these hard data, as well as expert opinion. In the early stages of online trading, information could be accessed in chatrooms. These clusters of information have evolved and some have found a new home in social networks.

One of the companies that sought to capitalize on this decentralized information on stock markets was Twitter. Prior to its IPO, in the summer of 2012, at the time it had just surpassed 150 million active users, it incorporated a feature aimed at the investment community: the cashtag. While this incursion was not a Twitter innovation, it was rather copied from the company StockTwits, with which controversy arose after the launch, the use of cashtags have taken on a lot of relevance for many retail investors.

What is a cashtag?

It is a metadata tag that facilitates the exchange, consultation, and storage of information related to a financial instrument, usually stocks, REITs, ETFs, indices, and even currencies.

How are they used?

To generate it, one usually uses the $ sign followed by the first six letters of the ticker of a company. So, when you want to share information or an opinion about Netflix, you would use the $NFLX cashtag. On the other hand, if an investor sees a relevant change in the price of Amazon shares and wants more information, he could type $AMZN in twitter’s search engine and access various opinions and sources.

It is very important to know that with a great power comes a great responsibility, and it is the obligation of the investor to corroborate that the information that is shared complies with the applicable regulation, that is, it is based on public information and from a reliable source, or ponder whether an opinion is trustworthy.

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