On May 6, 2015 the SEC approved a two-year pilot program with FINRA and the national securities exchanges that will widen the minimum quoting and trading increments, commonly referred to as tick sizes, for the stocks of smaller public companies. The goal of the program is to study whether wider tick sizes improve the market quality and trading of these stocks.
The basic premise is that if a tick size is wider, the spread will be bigger, and thus market makers and underwriters will have the ability to earn a larger profit on trading. If market makers and underwriters can earn larger profits on trading, they will have incentive to make markets, support liquidity and issue research on smaller public companies. The other side of the coin is that larger spreads and more profit for the traders equates to increased costs to the investors whose accounts are being traded.