The New York Stock Exchange is viewed on December 10, 2012 in New York City. - 

There’s news that the New York Stock Exchange might be acquried for $8 billion by the Atlanta-based upstart IntercontinentalExchange

The New York Stock Exchange has been around for more than 200 years. And the image most people have when they think of Wall Street is brokers shouting trades on its floor.  

But that’s an antiquated notion of how the markets really work these days, says Christopher Whalen, an investment banker with Carrington Investment Services.

“The Big Board is a kind of wonderful antique,” said Whalen. “But in more recent years most of the trading has gone away from the floor, it’s conducted electronically.”

And Whalen says the big money isn’t in cash trades -- or trading stocks -- but in derivatives. He guesses these days cash trades represent less 20 percent of the trading.

Enter the Atlanta-based Interncontinental Exchange. Its main business? You guessed it: trading derivatives in the energy markets.

“What this illustrates is how the markets have been slowly evolving over the past couple of decades,” said Whalen.

Whalen says the Intercontinental Exchange is mostly interested in the NYSE’s derivatives business in Europe.