Canadian online broker downtime blamed on manic marijuana stock trading

Traders using at least two major online discount brokerage platforms are complaining of sporadic outages and expressing frustration that the latest glitch has tied their hands amidst a broad plunge in marijuana stocks, Financial Post reported earlier today.

Clients of TD Bank’s WebBroker and Royal Bank’s RBC Direct Investing platforms have again taken to social media to gripe about problems, after facing similar issues in recent days.

A TD spokesman says “unprecedented” trading volume continues to drive some intermittent delays for its online and mobile WebBroker clients, and the bank’s technical teams are continuing to work to resolve the issue.

Brandon Colwell, an economics student and WebBroker user, says he has lost at least $8,000 today and the outages on December 29 and on January 2 appear to be coinciding with surges in trading activity in the cannabis sector.

Several marijuana companies took a major hit today — with shares of Canada’s biggest licensed producer Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) down as much as 19% — after the Associated Press reported U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions planned to rescind an Obama-era policy that allowed legalized pot to flourish in states south of the border. Pot stocks are since pared losses.

At least four cannabis-related firms listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange were temporarily halted today, according to the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, due to the single-stock circuit breaker rule which limits sudden price swings of stocks.

TD Bank spokesman Paolo Pasquini said the bank plans to make capacity upgrades Tuesday night to WebBroker that will help solve intermittent delays some of its clients have recently experienced online. Pasquini said clients can also call TD Direct Investing (1-800-465-5463) to speak with an investment representative who can help process transactions on their behalf.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and thank our clients for their patience,” he said.

TD WebBroker user Adam Kauppi said he started having problems using the service on Friday and called the bank for assistance, but hung up after waiting for two hours on hold.

Kauppi, vice president of strategy and operations for U.S. startup Adcuratio, who lives in Toronto, said on Tuesday he eventually reached a TD Bank representative via Facebook, who offered to reimburse him the fee for four trades. However, Kauppi said he’s a fairly active trader — with transactions typically ranging from US$10,000 to US$200,000 — and that roughly $40 in refunded fees is not enough.

When you’re trading in big dollars, any matter of seconds changes considerable dollars, which doesn’t compare to the $9.99 commissions they’re going to reimburse me,” he said in a phone interview.

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