Meanwhile proponents of HFT argue that it provides more liquidity and generally more efficient markets. Research has also shown that it has tightened spreads and also reduced transaction costs for investors.
Across the globe, governments and regulators have responded to HFT with a wide variety of measures.
Europe like the U.S., has embraced this new technology into its stock markets. HFT peaked in 2009 in the U.S., accounting for 62 percent of equity trades that year. In Europe, the peak was a year later, seeing 38 percent of all equity trades in 2010 and has since slipped lower.
Steve Previs, a longtime equity-sales trader at Mint Partners, a leading London agency brokerage, told CNBC that he believes HFT is not as prevalent in Europe as it is in the U.S., as the infrastructure and cash involved is a lot smaller, but it still leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
"After having executed hundreds of thousands of trades worth hundreds of billions of dollars, we can, with great confidence, acknowledge the fact those mudcat bottom-feeders have used technology to steal tens of billions of dollars from unsuspecting market participants," he said in a research note published last week.
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However, events in France and Italy have done little to increase these volumes. Last year, a group of 11 European Union countries announced their intention to impose a financial transaction tax as a way to make the banking sector take responsibility for its role in the economic crisis. Part of the tax includes a levy on HFT – a costly move for high-speed traders especially when a large amount of trades are placed in a small amount of time. Reuters data shows that the tax as a whole has coincided with a decrease in trading volumes, with French and Italian turnover down 10 percent by August last year.
The London Stock Exchange might seem unaffected by this move due to the U.K.'s strong stance against the financial transaction tax but the LSE's parent company does operate a bourse in Italy. In its 2013 annual report, it suggests a variety of reasons for a slump in volumes and revenues last year but mentions the transaction tax.
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A spokesperson for the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) told CNBC that current "guidelines" on HFT are in the process of being replaced by a new directive that shall set mandatory registration and tougher record keeping requirements.