FILE PHOTO: A Wall St. street sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Members Exchange (MEMX), a new bourse backed by major Wall Street firms looking to take on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) through lower fees, said on Friday it delayed its planned launch date due to the coronavirus crisis.

MEMX now expects to launch at some point in the third quarter, rather than on July 24, and has delayed industry testing for its platform, which was to begin on May 11, until later this quarter, Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Kellner said on the startup’s website.

The United States has reported more coronavirus infections than any other country, with nearly 670,000 cases and at least 33,300 deaths. Efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, such as stay-at-home or shelter-in-place requirements for most Americans, have taken a heavy toll on many businesses, forcing some to shutter and others to significantly adjust their operations.

“MEMX’s new normal is similar to most companies, with video calls replacing in-person conversations and sweatsuits replacing business suits,” Kellner said.

MEMX, which still needs approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is funded and controlled by some of the biggest customers of Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s (ICE.N) NYSE and of Nasdaq.

The founders include Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), UBS (UBSG.S), Virtu Financial (VIRT.O), Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Fidelity, Citadel Securities, Charles Schwab Corp (SCHW.N), E*Trade Financial Corp (ETFC.O) and TD Ameritrade Holdings Corp (AMTD.O). Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Jane Street Capital have also thrown their backing behind the New York-based company.

Kellner said MEMX, which now has more than 40 employees, is still hiring and signing on new exchange members as it works with the SEC on its regulatory approval.

MEMX was founded in January 2019 with the goal of increasing competition in the exchange sector, improving operational transparency, reducing fixed costs and simplifying equities trading in the United States.

Brokers and traders have complained for years about what they say are unjustifiably high fees charged by most stock exchanges for market data and connectivity. MEMX said it will offer a less expensive model; fewer, less complex order types; and a basic market data feed.

Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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