Andy Bria joins LiquidityEdge as Chief Operating Officer

Electronic US Treasuries (UST) trading venue LiquidityEdge today announced that Andy Bria has joined as Chief Operating Officer, based in New York.

Since launching in September 2015, LiquidityEdge has rapidly grown its UST market share and volumes, establishing itself as an alternative model for fixed income. Following the success of the platform, LiquidityEdge has selected Andy to drive further growth and lead LiquidityEdge’s expansion plans.

Andy joins LiquidityEdge from NEX Group, where he held multiple senior roles across client services for both the flagship EBS and BrokerTec brands for over 13 years. Andy was Head of Client Services for six years and in 2011, successfully managed all client-facing aspects of the BrokerTec technology platform refresh.

Andy’s extensive experience in electronic trading and client relations, combined with his expertise in capital markets, ideally places him to help lead LiquidityEdge’s strategy and operations.

Nichola Hunter, CEO of LiquidityEdge, comments: “We’re delighted to welcome Andy to the team and believe his experience in electronic trading will be invaluable to LiquidityEdge in the years ahead. Andy’s strategic guidance will be greatly beneficial as we move into the next phase of growth and we look forward to working with him.”

UK Holds the Crown for Worldwide Fintech Investment

The UK has received more investment in its fintech sector than any other country in the world, according to KPMG’s latest Venture Pulse Report.

With over US$16.1bn of inbound investment during the first half of the year, the UK is firmly ahead of China (US$15.1bn) and the United States (US$14.2bn).

Europe currently stands as the leading continent for fintech investment ($26bn), with the UK accounting for over half of this. Moreover, four of the ten largest European fintech deals were conducted in the UK. This includes the US$250m raised by Revolut in April and US$100m by eToro in March of this year.

KPMG also predicts that the UK will retain its crown in the second half of 2018.

The report cites artificial intelligence (AI) as one of the main sectors responsible for attracting fintech investment in the UK. Hot startups such as Previse and Mosaic Smart Data are utilising the technology to revolutionise areas as diverse as late payments and data analytics in wholesale financial markets.

Brexit

With the shadow of Brexit looming large, it is a timely reminder of the importance of the UK to the global fintech community. In a keynote speech at London Fintech Week earlier this month, our CEO Nick Murray-Leslie noted how finance and technology are almost indivisible; nowhere comes close to London in terms of dominance as a financial centre and, by extension, a fintech hub.

The strong data also dismisses the notion that Brexit is affecting the way investors think about the City and the rest of the UK. Our view is that Brexit is not the biggest risk to London; rather, it is the risk that the UK, and London in particular, becomes a victim of its own success and unaffordable or unattractive for people.

This city has been undergoing its own version of what scholars of US cities have termed “the Great Inversion”. This is the return of people, high-end housing and highly-paid jobs to city centres. If it becomes too expensive these people will go elsewhere and there may soon be only two types of people left: the wealthy and those who are in social housing. This will be a problem.

Looking Forward

Beyond the UK, fintech as an industry has sky-rocketed this year. Worldwide global fintech investment this year has already exceeded the whole sum value of 2017, proving why it’s crucial for the UK to remain at the forefront of this vital sector.

Chatsworth has been working with a number of award-winning start-ups and established fintechs such as Previse (late payments), Mosaic Smart Data (data analytics), R3 (blockchain), and can personally avow for how London can support a fintech business of any size, better than any other city in the world.

Looking forward to the third-quarter of the year, tax reforms in the US, a significant amount of dry powder and the continued flow of funding into the VC world are expected to keep the fintech investment market strong over the next quarter.

AI and data analytics are expected to remain high on the radar of VC investors. It is also expected that companies in maturing sectors, such as e-commerce, will continue to broaden their offerings and investments in order to access new or adjacent verticals.

But as KPMG notes, an area that may be one to watch over the next quarter will be valuations – particularly for companies with no tangible assets, where investors are focused on what the company might do in the future. The level of assumption and risk involved in these types of valuations is quite high and it is still to be seen if these valuations will be substantiated.

London’s Fintech Scene Greatest Threat Is Not Brexit

Finance and technology are almost indivisible. Nowhere comes close to London in terms of dominance as a financial centre and, by extension, a fintech hub.

Activity in the sector has really exploded in the last half decade. Inward investment to London has doubled since 2014 and it was the leading sector for investment in 2017. UK fintech attracted a record £1.34 billion VC funding, double the amount of any other European country.

That is why some of the most exciting fintech companies in the world, like R3, a consortium of over 200 banks and funds building a blockchain for finance and business, are building right here, in London.

Why London?

This city has been the beating heart of international finance for centuries. The Bank of England was the second central bank in the world and provided the financial flexibility which would be the foundation of the Empire’s power and which has pertained to this day.

Towards the turn of the millennium, the “Big Bang” reforms of the 1980s complimented the infrastructure and expertise which had evolved from running the Empire and led to London becoming the model for global financial administration. Only in a city with London’s concentration of intellectual capital would this have been possible.

So while our cousins across the pond had to deal with the bureaucracy and the restrictive regulation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we didn’t. Companies simply decided to avoid the hassle by conducting their business in the US and listed their stocks in London where the people and skills were ready for them.

London also holds a unique position in terms of our legal environment, M&A expertise and even our timezone which, even today, remain important factors.

Financial professionals are redefining fintech

Fast forward and these advantage carry over into the fintech sector. There are now legions of financial market professionals and traders moving into fintechs, working with the designers and coders.

Many of my clients are former desk heads or former heads of market data – they have had successful careers but had spotted opportunities to apply technology to improve what they do. These people are bringing their knowledge of the markets, instruments and the complexities of international regulation to the table.

Brexit

Just because London is the undisputed home of fintech today, doesn’t mean that is always going to be the case. I see a couple of threats on the near horizon that need dealing with to stay on top.

Brexit is an obvious concern. We simply must make sure that we remain open for business and be seen to be open for business. I do not agree with the former Foreign Secretary’s reported view that business should go “reproduce” with itself.

If the final deal jeopardises the status of London in the global markets there’s more at risk than just transactions going elsewhere. This is about a concentration of talent and access to capital. The way the UK makes relationships with other countries and structures its own agenda in the run up to Brexit will be key to its success.

London’s talent pool

So Brexit is clearly a risk, but I don’t actually think it’s the biggest risk to London. I think the biggest risk is that it becomes a victim of its own success and unaffordable or unattractive for people.

This city has been undergoing its own version of what scholars of US cities have termed “the Great Inversion”. This is the return of people, high-end housing and highly-paid jobs to city centres.

Inner London’s growth was in part fostered by the ability of creative people from various fields to cluster together and share ideas.

If inner London becomes too expensive these people will go elsewhere. In inner London there may soon be only two types of people left: the wealthy and those who are in social housing. This will be a problem.

London needs to be good for both business and for people and their families. That means ensuring individual and corporation tax is sensible and that families can afford to live in a capital with effective services.

Word to the risk takers

Some final words of tribute to the fintech risk takers who have put their time, their own and their investor’s money, plus a whole lot of coffee and sleepless nights into their concept, design and build.

If you’re doing it in the wholesale markets space, you’re competing for attention in the face of an established tech infrastructure, highly resistant to change. It’s tough, but ultimately the USP of your platform or offering will do the talking. Never give up. Get it right and you will change a – part of this business world for the better.

London FX turnover hits record high

The results of a new survey released by the Bank of England have revealed record-breaking FX turnover in the UK during April this year.

The survey, compiled with the responses of 28 London-based institutions, shows that daily FX turnover during the month was a staggering $2,727bn – up 15% on October last year and 14% on April last year.

The Bank of England says this represents the highest reported turnover on record, beating the previous peak of $2,711bn set in October 2014.

Turnover in FX swaps accounted for the largest increase, growing by 18% compared with October last year. There was an 18% increase in turnover in the sterling-dollar currency pair, an 11% increase in euro-dollar trading and a 13% increase in dollar-yen. 

In particular, London’s turnover in the British pound rose to a record $351 billion, up 18% from October 2017 and nearly doubling from last year. This was driven largely by traders dumping the pound against the dollar when the Bank of England declined to raise interest rates.

The survey results reflect London’s continued position as the epicentre of the global currency markets, despite ongoing debate about the UK’s future trade arrangements post-Brexit. The UK growth rate in turnover also overtook US data revealed today by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which showed a 5.2% increase on a six-month basis and 11.7% year-on-year, with turnover only around one-third of that in London.

As ever, volatility has been the major driver for the increase in turnover. After years of ultra-low interest rates across the globe, central banks are beginning to diverge again in terms of where they set their policy rates. Growing concerns over a global trade war and political turmoil in the Eurozone have also contributed significantly to this volatility.

FX trading remains one of the City’s most profitable industries, and the Bank of England’s survey is a timely reminder of the dominance of the UK’s FX providers in a period of significant political and economic uncertainty for the country.

Chatsworth delivers opening keynote at London FinTech Week

To Westminster, where Chatsworth’s CEO Nick Murray-Leslie was the opening keynote speaker at this years’ London FinTech Week.

 The event brought together the best and brightest FinTech firms, individuals, developers, and entrepreneurs.

 FinTech is a truly global sector, with focussed hubs developing in both developed and emerging markets.

Nick’s speech focused on London as a FinTech hub, how London had gained traction as a global fintech hub and what it must do to retain that critical position, from attracting investment and venture capital, the talent pool, expansion opportunities and the impact of Brexit.

He also introduced Richard Brown, CTO of R3 for a deep dive into how a major banking technology consortium chose London for its technical and operational HQ and how the city’s talent pool and unique position in the intersection of finance, timezones and continents contributed to its success.

Deepwell enters new phase with 7 major hires across three continents

DeepWell Liquidity Management, the global financial markets intermediary for the buy-side community, has added seven senior market professionals to its team across three continents as it eyes further growth and expansion into different asset classes.

DeepWell launched in September 2017 and offers global coverage across a range of OTC and exchange-traded FX products, including spot, forwards, options and futures.

The company’s new hires experience range from the who’s who of the banking world, from, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank to RBS, with more than century’s worth of experience between them.

In an interview with Finance Magnates, Deepwell CEO Richard Leighton spoke on the purpose of the hirings, “These additions will allow us to continue meeting the demand we are experiencing for our services and will help us to grow our market share in FX. Growing our capacity also enables us to service more institutions and investors and look at expanding other markets and products.”

These hiring’s have evidently taken place with a larger goal in mind. In the same interview, Leighton went to explain, “We took the strategic decision to set up offices in three of the biggest FX hubs in the world as we believe these have the greatest growth potential. We expect to grow our team at each of these locations as we continue to increase our market share in FX and expand into new asset classes.”

Mosaic Smart Data & Previse named in Europe’s 50 Hottest Fintechs

Last week, Fintech City unveiled the sixth annual list of Europe’s top fintech50 companies. The list is selected by a panel of internationally renowned figures across finance and technology from a long-list of 1,800 companies. We were very proud to see Mosaic Smart Data and Previse added to the list this year for the first time.

Drawn from both B2C fintechs and those aimed at the institutional market, the list includes a wide range of business models and technologies.

Mosaic Smart Data and Previse lead a strong contingent of data analytics and machine learning companies. Both companies have had huge success targeting these technologies at specific, previously unsolvable, business problems.

In the case of Mosaic, it is enabling institutions to, for the first time, see their fixed income, currencies and commodities business in real-time. It uses advanced analytics to enable sales teams to generate useable insights to boost their performance and improve client servicing. In the last twelve months, Mosaic announced its first client, secured funding and expanded its team.

Previse is using machine learning to enable large businesses to have their suppliers paid instantly. It has made it onto the list in just its second year of business after securing funding from the Scottish Government and welcoming senior business figures such as John Gildersleeve and David Tyler to its advisory board.

As well as analytics companies like Mosaic Smart Data and Previse, a big trend in the 2018 list are blockchain companies. The list includes businesses applying the technology to a range of fields, from wholesale payments settlement to digital identity and cybersecurity.

Data analytics and blockchain are moving beyond theory and are now actively transforming global finance. It is, therefore, no surprise that these technologies feature strongly in this list of the most exciting financial technology companies.

We are proud to be working with some of the companies in the vanguard of these changes, both in Europe and the United States.

Creative Clerkenwell shows its true colours during CDW 2018

Clerkenwell Design Week 2018 kicked off this week, showcasing the area’s creativity and innovation with a programme full of thought-provoking exhibitions and must-see installations.

Thousands of people from around the country have descended on Clerkenwell to attend or take part in the world-class A&D festival.

Chatsworth Communications is pleased to support the 9th edition of the Clerkenwell Design Week 2018. We look forward to this event every year and in 2018, we provided data which was used for one of the installations.

Being based in Clerkenwell Close has meant we have seen the heart of the action. One of our favourite parts was in the picturesque grounds of St James Church which featured ‘Design Fields’, a showcase of leading furniture, lighting and product design from around the world.

There was also a lot of interest in Platform, a show that recognizes some of the world’s most exciting up-and-coming design talent.

New for 2018 was ‘Light’, an installation which took over Fabric nightclub. The former cold-store turned nightclub hosted within its brick vaults an exhibition dedicated to top international lighting brands with spectacular stand alone lighting installations.

The last events take place tonight, so drop into Clerkenwell to avoid missing out on the colourful creativity on display before the remarkable fixings are put away for another year.

UK Remains at the Forefront of the Fintech Revolution

Despite fierce competition, the UK remains at the forefront of the fintech revolution according to the ‘Finance for Fintech’ report, launched recently by London Stock Exchange Group and TheCityUK.

The independent survey, carried out by YouGov, interviewed over 400 fintech companies across eight countries, all of which have had at least Series A funding rounds or above, and provided interesting insights into the global fintech scene.

Bullish UK fintech scene

UK fintechs are bullish about their growth prospects.

The research highlighted that fintech companies operating in the UK expect to grow by 88 per cent over the next three years, 8% higher than the overall average.

Vital to this growth is raising finance and this process is reportedly more straightforward for UK fintechs in public markets than those operating in other countries, making it an attractive location for fast-growth companies. Chancellor Philip Hammond recently supported this view, pointing out that investment in UK fintech more than doubled last year, outpacing the funding of EU rivals such as Germany.

Interestingly, fintechs surveyed placed the UK as the third best  location for businesses seeking to grow their international footprint, only behind the US and China.

Fintech Revolution in Europe?

That said, competition is heating up.

Europe increasingly seeks to strengthen its position as a regional fintech hub. On 8 March, the European Commission announced an action plan on how it will do just that; new rules that will help crowdfunding platforms to grow across the EU’s single market.

The impact of this will be interesting as one of the primary barriers to fintech growth is competition according to 43% of those surveyed.

Regulation

Fintechs require a supportive global regulatory environment to flourish.

You have to applaud the FCA’s exploration of a potential global regulatory sandbox following the success of its UK version. The UK version, launched in 2016, helped fintechs to test innovations with real customers in the live market but under controlled conditions.

The global sandbox could allow firms to conduct tests from London into different jurisdictions at the same time, enabling regulators to collaborate to solve cross-border problems.

This has the potential to strengthen London’s position as a destination for global fintech companies as they can come from all around the world to test their products and find out how they can expand internationally.

Fintech is by definition without borders.

The research shows that fintechs across the world are becoming increasingly cross-border in their growth aspirations with 72% of the 400 companies surveyed planning to expand into new countries. 73% believe they will need to move into new or develop existing market sectors in order to achieve this growth and almost three-quarters believe long-term growth will be driven, at least in part, by new technologies.

It is worth noting that those who have reached Series D rounds or above have the biggest appetite for expansions and anticipate achieving a monumental growth of 320%.

While fintechs seek global expansion, it is important they don’t lose sight of the importance of being located close to the core financial hubs as crossover will, by and large, determine their success.

It is clear that in order for fintechs to thrive and continue to transform the global financial services sector, they need access to finance, a supportive global regulatory environment and proximity to the global financial services sector. The UK currently offers all three.

The report demonstrates that while the UK remains at the forefront of the fintech revolution, it must continue to innovate and work collaboratively in order to maintain its leading position, especially with Europe hot on its heels.

 

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Banks Are Prioritising Digital Transformation

Fintech has barely even got started if a new report from EY is to be believed. Less than 20% of banks believe they are doing enough as a business to invest in technology, according to EY’s Global Banking Outlook study. This, despite some substantial leaps forward in technological capability and significant investment.

To combat this, more than half of banks surveyed in the report expect budgets for technological investment to rise by 10% this year, and more than half of banks aspire to be digitally maturing or digital leaders by 2020. Banks appetite to invest and partner with fintech firms may in part explain why last year was a bumper year for fintech VC funding, with $1.8 billion raised by UK firms.

This new investment opens up major new growth opportunities for the already thriving financial technology market.

The impact of fintech is being felt in every part of finance, from retail banking to back-office compliance. But one of the key focuses for banks over the past few years has been using technology to try to deal with stringent compliance and regulation, which slows down, complicates and adds expense to transactions.

Solving this is one of the key promises of distributed ledger technology (DLT) which is being touted as a new way to create trust between institutions, lower compliance costs and create information sharing efficiencies. This year, we are likely to see the first examples of DLT moving from proof of concept into market operation.

Data analytics and machine learning are likely to be another hotspot of activity this year. Many banks have begun announcing project designs in all kinds of areas of the bank, from back-office automation to the use of machine learning to improve execution quality.

For example, JP Morgan is working with UK based data analytics company Mosaic Smart Data to unlock insights from its internal FICC data to improve client handling and FICC performance.

In trade finance, Previse is looking to end late payments for SME suppliers with its advanced machine learning and innovative finance model which creates opportunities for buyers, sellers and banks alike.

The last few years have seen an explosion in financial technology. However, emerging technologies begin to mature, and banks continue to strive to be more efficient and effective, it looks like the fintech surge is only just beginning.

 

SWIFT GPI Reduces Cross Border Transactions To Minutes & Seconds

The cross-border payments industry has seen a revolution in speed and transparency over the past decade or so. A generation of new companies are eyeing the role of incumbents and exploring new technologies such as blockchain to transform existing processes.

However, examples of genuine innovation are beginning to emerge amongst both new providers and incumbents. Once such example is the global banking messaging giant SWIFT, which revealed that users of its Global Payments Initiative (GPI) service, are receiving payments within minutes, and even seconds.

SWIFT GPI

Nearly 50% of SWIFT gpi payments are credited to end beneficiaries within 30 minutes, and almost 100% of payments within 24 hours. With all payments fully traceable, there have been fewer enquiry-related queries, reducing costs for banks by as much as 50%.

SWIFT has set the international standard for cross-border payments for over four decades, and this week’s announcement directly addresses the perception that its payments are slow and cannot keep up with the new upstarts.

To the contrary, SWIFT gpi continues to gain significant traction; traffic already accounts for nearly 10% of total SWIFT cross-border payments, and over USD 100 billion is being transacted every day by 150 banks across more than 220 international corridors.

Blockchain?

SWIFT has made it clear that the service currently does not incorporate blockchain technology – making the speed of payments ever-more impressive. Yet, it’s important to note that blockchain is not a panacea; any payment service must offer speed, transparency, industry-wide connectivity and have appropriate regulatory oversight. SWIFT gpi incorporates all of these without incurring huge costs for banks and their customers.

Harry Newman, SWIFT’s Head of Banking commented on today’s announcement, “Thanks to SWIFT GPI, banks are able to credit payments within minutes and even seconds, while their customers are facing shorter supply cycles and able to ship goods faster. This is a very significant step forward for banks and for their customers” says. “In addition, banks receive fewer queries and have told us their inquiry-related costs are reduced by as much as 50% when they use SWIFT GPI. This is a major service improvement to end-users and a considerable cost saving for the industry.”

Looking Forward

It is clear that gpi service has transformed the way cross-border payments are sent and received, and further enhancements appear to be in the pipeline for 2018. As more banks use the service and integrate it with their corporate offerings throughout 2018, the number of corporates will continue to grow rapidly.

With SWIFT already playing a key role in delivering the New Payments Platform in Australia and introducing real-time payments to Europe later this year, it seems 2018 is shaping up to be a key year for the cooperative and its members.

Carillion collapse shines spotlight on late payments issue

The collapse of construction giant Carillion has focused media and government attention on the global issue of payment terms after it was discovered the group paid subcontractors with a 120-day delay. These delayed payments meant many suppliers had to resort to expensive bank finance to stay in business while others are now facing bankruptcy.

Recognising the importance of ending the culture of late payment, two FTSE 100 chairmen have joined the advisory board of Previse, a UK based company which uses artificial intelligence to solve slow payments for the entire supply chain.

Chairman of supermarket chain J Sainsbury, David Tyler and chairman of property group British Land, John Gildersleeve have joined the company as investors and advisers.

Previse’s AI technology is designed to enable large firms to pay suppliers on the day they receive an invoice. The London-based firm’s technology calculates a buyer’s likelihood of paying an invoice, before deciding which invoices will be paid, so small suppliers can be paid instantly.

David Tyler said: “The length of time it can take for suppliers to be paid hurts not only them, but the large companies buying their products and services as well.” He believes that Previse will bring benefits to the entire supply chain and that the company has a bright future ahead of it.

Mr Gildersleeve, who is also deputy chairman of telecoms company TalkTalk, told the Financial Times that Previse could tackle an issue that has, “infected British business forever.”

Lengthy payment terms and the prevalence of slow payments by large buyers, which affects three in five SME suppliers, cause 50,000 UK SMEs to close each year. Previse’s artificial intelligence technology allows even very small suppliers to receive payment the day they issue their invoice by instantly identifying if an invoice is correct and allowing a funder to pay the supplier immediately based on this information.

“I am proud to be able to welcome our new board members who represent incredible senior experience across such a wide range of industries with significant supply chains.” Said Paul Christensen, CEO of Previse. “I think this shows the deep understanding across industry that slow payments are a real problem, and confidence in our approach to tackling the problem.”

 

Foreign exchange in 2018: David Puth speaks to FX Week

Technology and regulatory guidance and principles will shape the foreign exchange (FX) market’s structure in 2018, according to David Puth, CEO of CLS, in an exclusive interview with FX Week.

2017 saw the publication of the FX Global Code, and a number of leading financial services and technology institutions confirmed their commitment to adopting and instilling its principles. This trend, Puth says, will continue in 2018 as the Global Foreign Exchange Committee publishes its final guidance on Principal 17 covering “last look”.

2018 will also be a year in which CLS expands its role offering new solutions to improve efficiency and reduce risk in the FX market.

“We are becoming more than a settlement utility. While delivering the risk mitigation that comes with safe settlement is our primary mission, we continue to focus on delivering products that solve client problems,” says Puth.

These include a same-day settlement service for five of the world’s most liquid currencies, and its much-anticipated distributed ledger technology (DLT) enabled netting service, CLSNet.

These technologies will likely have a significant impact on FX market structure, helping it to become more efficient and speed up the movement of currency around the world.

For more on what 2018 holds for FX, including David’s thoughts on the dollar and bitcoin, read the full interview here.

Defining the FX Flash Crash

On the 15th January 2015, the euro crashed 20% against the Swiss franc in a matter of moments, before recovering rapidly. Similarly, on 7th October 2016, sterling plunged in value by over 9% against the dollar, again regaining most of its value minutes later.

These are amongst the most famous examples of the market phenomena know as the ‘flash crash’, but they are by no means the only examples. In fact, according to a study by algorithmic trading technology provider, Pragma, which aims to help monitor and track the prevalence of flash crashes, there were some 69 flash crashes in 2015 and 2016. Almost one a fortnight.

The causes of these market phenomena are unknown. It has been suggested that flash crashes are the result of ‘fat-fingered traders’ or lapses of human judgement. After the pound sterling incident, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) released a report which suggested technical error as a possible cause.

However, as most research has considered these events as of one-off incidences, drawing generalised conclusions has been difficult. Without other flash crashes to compare, it is not possible to tell which variables in a complex market are contributing to the crash and which were incidental. For example, some commentators have suggested that a principal cause is algorithms overreacting to news events, but further study has found no particular correlation between other flash crashes and news events.

This is where Pragma’s research is vital. It has analysed two years of tick by tick foreign exchange data to identify and catalogue all instances of flash crashes across numerous major currencies between 2015 and 2016. To do this, it has developed a precise, quantitative definition of the flash crash.

Previously, the BIS described a flash crash as a ‘large, fast, V-shaped price move and a sudden widening of bid-offer spreads,’ the V-shape implies a reversion of the price after the initial price move. Pragma’s definition builds on the BIS’s and defines a flash crash as having a:

  • Large price move ( 13x than normal price volatility)
  • Widening bid-offer spread 2x normal)
  • Strong price reversion ( 70% price reversion)

Using this standard, the examined time period had 69 instances of what would be considered a flash crash.

This dataset allows industry analysts and academics to more accurately examine the causes of flash crashes and what effects such as changing technology, regulation and industry practices are having on market quality going into the future.

For now, the causes of flash crashes remain unclear. But Pragma’s research provides an important foundational step in moving the market towards a more full understanding of this market phenomena.

For more information, you can request Pragma’s research report here. You can also read more about the report on Bloomberg and Reuters.

J.P. Morgan deploys Mosaic Smart Data for fixed income data analytics

As a recent piece in the FT pointed out, traders are searching for ever more inventive data streams to try to make better predictions about their market or get an edge over the competition. Whether that be advanced social media analytics, algorithms to read the news or even using drones and satellite images to look at factories, banks, and hedge funds are investing significant amounts in collecting and analysing data.

But, banks know that there is a vast wealth of data created and stored within the institution created simply through the normal course of the trading day. This is free, and it is completely proprietary.

The problem is, data within the bank is distributed across desks, systems and messaging languages. Bringing that all into one, aggregated and standardised form so that the algorithms can work their magic and deliver valuable insights is a herculean task.

But that is exactly what Mosaic Smart Data has announced it is doing J.P. Morgan.

By using sophisticated historical, real-time and predictive analytics algorithms, the Mosaic’s platform will provide, in the first instance, J.P. Morgan’s rates, sales and trading business with advanced tools to accurately provide tailored client service. This innovative technology enables users to better visualise and anticipate market and client activity and thereby offer better service. It can also reduce the cost and complexity of compliance.

“Having a more holistic view of trading data will improve our service delivery for clients.” Said Troy Rohrbaugh, Global Head of Macro at J.P. Morgan. “The Mosaic platform integrates securely with our existing technology infrastructure, and enables our teams to quickly make better-informed decisions.”

Once these fundamentals of a data analytics platform are in place. Mosaic can roll out advanced machine learning and predictive analytics which will help sales teams to predict their clients’ behaviour, allowing them to better facilitate client needs and improve their performance.

“Data analytics and artificial intelligence are changing the face of investment banking.” Says Matthew Hodgson, CEO, and founder of Mosaic Smart Data. “Banks understand that the insights locked away in their transaction and market data are potentially some of their biggest competitive advantages. They already have the raw materials, but MSX® gives them the tools to aggregate and standardise that data and put it to work intelligently.”

Thousands descend to Toronto as Sibos 2017 gets underway

Thousands of delegates flew in from around the world to Sibos to network, debate and discuss topical issues relating to business, technology and finance. The four-day annual event is organised by SWIFT, the global member-owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services.

Sibos has a track record in attracting the highest calibre of speakers, and this year is no different. David McKay, President and Chief Executive Officer at RBC, was the chief guest speaker for the opening SWIFT plenary. He addressed a full audience alongside SWIFT’s Chairman of the Board, Yawar Shah, and SWIFT’s CEO, Gottfried Leibbrandt. Between them, they touched on the key events during the past 12 months, the industry challenges ahead, and SWIFT’s role in addressing them.

Fintech, transaction banking, blockchain, SWIFT gpi and financial crime compliance all featured on the agenda for day one, and announcements from SWIFT relating to the latter two sparked the interest of a few observers.

Anyone working in the B2B payments space, be it a bank, a corporation or a technology vendor, will be aware of SWIFTgpi. It was announced today that SWIFTgpi surpassed two million payments last month – rapidly becoming the new standard in cross-border payments.

More than 120 leading transaction banks, representing over 75% of all SWIFT payments, are signed up to the service. By doing so, they are utilising the innovative payments Tracker, a cloud-based application accessible via APIs. Banks embed the gpi Tracker information into their payments flow applications and front-end platforms, allowing their customers to track gpi payments in real-time.

This addresses a serious bugbear. Traditionally, when a corporate treasurer sends a request for a cross-border transaction to a bank, they have no visibility of what actually happens with that request. Treasurers often liken this to a “black hole”; they have no view as to when payment finality occurs or its final costs. This can lead to problems with suppliers or end-customers, not to mention increasing financial risks resulting from payment delays or non-compliance with regulatory requirements.

For all of the blockchain aficionados out there, SWIFT also confirmed it will provide a sneak peek of the results from the DLT proof of concept (PoC) relating to SWIFTgpi during Sibos, ahead of its conclusion in November.

Harmonsing international compliance standards

A major announcement relating to SWIFT’s Compliance division also became a topic of interest. SWIFT’s Know Your Customer (KYC) Registry, utilised by thousands of banks around the world is being aligned with the new Wolfsberg Due Diligence Questionnaire (DDQ) for Correspondent Banks.

This is the latest in a long line of close collaboration between SWIFT and Wolfsberg to address a broad range of compliance challenges facing the correspondent banking community and beyond. The Wolfsberg Group is a member of SWIFT’s Financial Crime Compliance Advisory Group and is made of thirteen global banks. It aims to develop frameworks and guidance for the management of financial crime risks, particularly with respect to KYC, AML and Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) policies.

The Wolfsberg DDQ has been updated in response to an increase in regulatory expectations. Aligning the Registry with the Wolfsberg DDQ ensures coverage of up to 90 percent of the information correspondent banks typically require for KYC compliance, delivering major time and cost savings. By answering every Wolfsberg DDQ question directly on the KYC Registry, members benefit from increasing transparency and streamlined due diligence processes.

So, all in all, it looks like a busy but successful day at Sibos so far. Stay tuned on all things related to Sibos by following @Sibos, @chatsworthcomms or search #Sibos2017.

FX trading volumes rebound from summer lull

CLS’s currency trading volumes saw a significant uptick, as volatility in the foreign exchange (FX) market bounced back in September.

Following a bumpy period in geopolitics over the summer, trading activity rose strongly to almost USD 1.750 trillion in last month, according to the largest provider of settlement services in the global foreign exchange market.

Data from CLS showed a 10.7 percent month-on-month increase in the number of trade instructions submitted in September from USD1.581 trillion in July 2017.  This also represents a very significant 15.9% increase from this time last year, when volumes totalled USD1,514 trillion.

CLS’s figures reflect the trend observed in the monthly figures from many of the major trading platforms. However, given its position as a central settlement hub for the wholesale market, CLS provides the most comprehensive snapshot of activity, encompassing data from 18 global currencies and approximately 21,000 trading entities around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mosaic shortlisted for fintech company of the year by City AM

Congratulations to the Mosaic Smart Data team which has been named in this year’s top five fintech companies in the City AM awards.

The awards celebrate the best of The City in an aim to identify ‘the most bold, successful, and principled companies and individuals’ of the year. The fintech category recognises some of the most innovative British fintech successes, and celebrates London’s role as one of the world’s centres of fintech excellence.

Mosaic was shortlisted as one of the top five categories by City AM’s editorial staff who, announcing the shortlist in the daily paper, described it as “one of the best financial services tech innovations of recent times”.

With financial institutions facing a challenging period in FICC markets, Mosaic allows banks to see how their entire FICC business is performing in real time and help traders identify much-needed liquidity in FICC markets.

As the volume of data linked to trading activity and interactions with clients increases, the challenge to harness and analyse that data in real time becomes ever more critical. Mosaic Smart Data understands that the true value of data comes not only from the intrinsic individual data streams themselves, but also from the correlations and inferences that can be drawn from the aggregated data from each client.

Its cutting-edge technology addresses the challenges facing institutions trading in today’s FICC markets, including change management, productivity, efficiency, restructuring and the growing automation of trading processes.

The final winners of the City AM awards will be chosen by a panel of prestigious judges from the world of business, including Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell and Sky News’ highly experienced City Editor Mark Kleinman.

We wish Mosaic the best of luck for the awards ceremony, which will be held on 9th November at Grange St Paul’s Hotel.

SWIFT and Chatsworth leading the debate at SIBOS, 2017

The Chatsworth team is proud to be supporting SWIFT at SIBOS, the world’s premier financial services conference, exhibition and networking event. What started out as a banking operations seminar in 1978, has grown into the premier business forum for the global financial community to debate and collaborate in the areas of payments, securities, cash management and trade.

Organised by SWIFT for the financial industry, Sibos has brought financial leaders together, over four decades, to network, collaborate and make sense of changes in the industry, helping to build an understanding of the forces affecting the financial community. 

 SWIFT is all about connectivity. The organisation remains the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services, providing a platform for messaging, standards for communicating and products and services to facilitate access and integration; identification, analysis and regulatory compliance.

 The organisation connects more than 11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infrastructures and corporate customers in more than 200 countries and territories. Headquartered in Belgium, SWIFT’s international governance and oversight reinforces the neutral, global character of its cooperative structure.

 The Chatsworth team will be in attendance throughout the event in Toronto, where the team will be working to support SWIFT in highlighting the challenges facing the financial eco-system and how their connectivity and experience can help. Chatsworth’s CEO will also be moderating some of the panel debates.

Get in touch

Email: swift@chatsworthcommunications.com   

Twitter: @chatsworthcomms

We look forward to seeing you there. 

Compliance stream at Sibos will explore implications of rapidly changing geopolitical and financial crime environment

Experts and regulators to address the new normal in sanctions, counter-terrorist financing, anti-money laundering, fraud, and cyber security

Sibos introduces a stellar line-up throughout the Compliance stream at this four-day event in Toronto. Multiple sessions will address the profound impact of the shifting geopolitical, financial crime, and cybersecurity environment. Panel debates and deep-dive sessions will cover topics such as the future of financial intelligence sharing; counter terrorist financing in the ‘lone wolf’ era; the potential of artificial intelligence to improve sanctions and AML compliance; and the fraud and cyber-crime ‘new normal’.

An ‘in conversation’ panel with Wolfsberg Group members will unveil the coming year’s priorities and trends. A Latin America-focused panel will provide an overview of the region’s banking compliance challenges.

Notable speakers participating in this year’s Compliance Forum include:

  • Jennifer Calvery, Global Head of Financial Crime Threat Mitigation, HSBC
  • James Freis, Chief Compliance Officer, Clearstream Banking
  • William Fox, Managing Director Global Head of Financial Crime Compliance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Neil Isford, General Manager, Watson Financial Services Solutions, IBM
  • David Lewis, Executive Secretary, FATF
  • Jerry Perrullo, Chief Information Officer, ICE
  • Denise Reilly, Wolfsberg member, Global Head of Anti-Money Laundering, Citi

Must-attend sessions include:

Counter-terrorist financing- are we really stopping the bad guys – 17 October at 9:30

Panelists will explore how can banks – and governments – adapt to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, what is working and what needs to work better, and whether stringent regulations are pushing legitimate actors outside of the financial system without actually preventing acts of violence.

Fraud and cyber high alert: The new normal? – 18 October at 9:30

As high-profile security breaches continue to reverberate, this panel discussion of experts from a range of industries will discuss the benefits gained from collaboration, the landscape of payment risks, and the skills that must be developed and recruited to protect institutions and the industry.
“In conversation” with Wolfsberg – Pressing priorities and trends 18 October at 15:30

A lively discussion with Wolfsberg representatives will discuss the industry’s latest challenges, trends, and the coming year’s priorities.

Read more about the Compliance stream on Sibos.com.

The Sibos streams enable attendees to build their Sibos agenda around the topics of interest to them.

Other Sibos Streams and Tracks include:

Banking

Technology

Securities

Standards Forum

Artificial Intelligence

About Sibos

Sibos is an annual conference, exhibition and networking event organised by SWIFT for the global financial industry. Next month, some 7,000 decision makers and topic experts from financial institutions, market infrastructures, multinational corporations, and technology partners gather in one place to do business and collectively shape the future of payments, securities, cash management and trade.

When: Monday 16 October – Thursday 19 October 2017

Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC)

Website: www.sibos.com

Contact: JoAnn Healy | Press@Sibos.com | +1 212 455 1802

Get your complimentary Sibos Press Pass today

Accredited journalists are welcome to attend Sibos free of charge. To obtain your complimentary press pass for Sibos 2017 Toronto, contact: Registration@Sibos.com.

Don’t miss your chance to be right in the middle of the news at the premier financial services event of the year.

Follow us on Twitter: @Sibos #Sibos

Follow us on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/Sibos

Top Canadian FinTechs to feature at Sibos 2017

 32 FinTech startups have been selected to participate in Sibos.

According to figures highlighted by the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), Canadian investment activity in the FinTech sector from angel investors, Venture Capitalists (VCs) and corporate VCs increased from US$87.21 million in 2012 to US$367.51 million in 2016.

This doesn’t come as a surprise – the country has long been a pioneer in the digital arena. This extends back to the creation of the first truly smart smartphone, and the establishment of the world’s first Bitcoin ATM in Canada in 2013.

There are now hundreds of innovative FinTech companies, spread across Canada’s major FinTech hubs – Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver.

These hubs are making a name for themselves on the world stage. For example, Vancouver has moved up 16 spots on the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) from #33 in 2008 to #17 in 2017. And in 2016, The Banker magazine ranked Toronto second amongst North American financial centres and 8th in the world.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, over 2,000 students graduate each year with degrees in Finance, adding to the nearly 100,000-strong talent pool that drives financial services in the city. And there are 1,556 financial services businesses in Calgary, where the Top 10 investment banks all have a presence.

To help some of the best local FinTechs showcase their solutions to a global audience, the Canada Lounge at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) will host 32 Canadian FinTech startups throughout the Sibos week. The Canada Lounge will be located in the Discover Zone (Level 600).

The startups will rotate throughout the week. Each day, there will be eight startups present in the Canadian FinTech Corner section of the Canada Lounge. Delegates will be able to interact with them to learn more about their offering, and how they may be able to help your business.

 

 

 

 

Burberry continues to set the standard

Chatsworth stopped by Burberry’s take over of the Old Sessions House, soon to be London’s hottest new club and restaurant venue, near our office in Clerkenwell. 

The British brand is hosting a photographic exhibition curated by president and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, entitled ‘Here We Are’, with the accumulated work of over 30 social and documentary photographers who made their aesthetic mark on the 20th Century.

Burberry remains a real case study for smart integrated brand communications, using digital channels, event space and marketing to remarkable effect. 

Marketing by association and advocacy is a clever technique and Burberry use this to the max by curating both new and established art and music to reinforce their own creative work. 

As they say, it’s the company you keep. Great brand, great reputation.

Closing speaker at Sibos 2017 confirmed: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella set to take centre stage

Those that haven’t registered for the event now have an added incentive to do so

Sibos has an excellent track record of attracting the great and the good from the technology and business world. More than 8,000 decision makers and topic experts from around the world are expected to descend on Toronto next month from 16-19 October.

Over the years, Sibos has become known for attracting the highest calibre of speakers to lead and facilitate discussions on the future of business, technology, payments, securities and regulation –and the four-day event is now a staple on the calendar of many executives.

Those that haven’t registered for the event now have an added incentive to do so. Earlier today, it was announced that one of the most high profile executives from the technology world, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, will deliver the closing plenary address on Thursday 19 October.

Satya Nadella was named Microsoft’s CEO in February 2014, but has been with the company since 1992. During his 25-year tenure, he has established himself as a technology visionary who quickly became known as a leader across a breadth of technologies and business lines.

Under his direction, Microsoft has switched its centre of gravity from its Windows operating system to Azure – its global cloud computing business – which has grown to become the centre-piece of more than 100 data centres around the world.

Today, its technology underpins a range of web-based applications, bringing mobile devices to life and crunching data for artificial-intelligence (AI) services, according to The Economist, which published an excellent profile article on Nadella and Microsoft earlier this year.

His speech at Sibos will focus on how technology is profoundly impacting every aspect of our society and economies.

“For over two decades, Satya has been at the forefront of the tech revolution, and worked at the heart of one of the defining companies of this century. He knows what it takes to build an innovative and game changing company, and that harnessing disruptive technologies is crucial to enabling businesses to remain relevant and competitive in an ever-changing world.” said Sven Bossu, Head of Sibos.

“The financial services industry is currently undergoing its own tech revolution, which has created huge challenges but also opportunities. During the closing plenary, we look forward to Satya sharing his experiences with delegates to inspire them to build a stronger future for financial services.”

Microsoft’s share price has also risen by an impressive 60% under his leadership. With 8,000 people expected to walk through the doors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), there will be plenty of ears listening intently to his words of wisdom.

Sibos 2017 is shaping up to be an unmissable event. To explore this year’s programme, and to register, visit Sibos.com.

The Clearing House and SWIFT move closer to instant payments in the US

US banks will have option to connect to The Clearing House’s real-time payments system via SWIFT gateway

A major evolution is underway in the US payment infrastructure. Many participants in the world’s largest financial market are keenly awaiting the development of a new clearing and settlement system from The Clearing House (TCH) to support domestic instant payments in the US.

Once complete, the service will allow consumers and businesses to send and receive payments in real-time, and directly from their accounts at financial institutions. It will also include data and non-payment messages that financial institutions can use to build digital commerce solutions.

As instant payments become more ubiquitous in the US, the world’s largest payment messaging system, SWIFT, announced it will provide US institutions with a gateway to The Clearing House’s real-time payments (RTP) platform.

SWIFT’s solution for the U.S. market will provide banks with the opportunity to leverage a single platform, Alliance Messaging Hub (AMH). This will provide an interface for managing the requirements of sending and receiving domestic instant payment transactions for both SWIFT high-value payments and low-value TCH real-time payments on behalf of customers.

AMH is an orchestration layer that includes a gateway to the TCH RTP network, as well as other gateways and API’s which allow financial institutions to connect to other non-SWIFT networks. Financial institutions can leverage AMH to support instant payments, simplifying adoption to our customers.

As reported by International Business Times, on the significance of the gateway, Ignacio Blanco, SWIFT’s director of strategic relationships said:

“SWIFT is working together with communities worldwide to support the global shift towards real-time payments, and we are pleased to be at the forefront as the U.S. market evolves. The Clearing House is making great strides in accelerating the speed of transactions, and we are committed to playing our part in helping the financial community to operate as efficiently as possible.”

Steve Ledford, SVP Product and Strategy at The Clearing House, also explained why TCH selected SWIFT as a partner:

“Given its reach and expertise in payments, SWIFT is a great collaborator as we bring a wide-scale real-time payments system to the U.S. market. Achieving our vision of broad adoption of real-time payments will only be possible when the majority of U.S. institutions are able to participate, and SWIFT will be instrumental in helping us meet this goal.”

The solution will be commercially available by early 2018. But as IBT notes, SWIFT’s global instant payments strategy is burgeoning, and the US announcement builds on SWIFT’s earlier success in Australia and in Europe.

In 2015, SWIFT was awarded the contract to deliver the messaging infrastructure to underpin Australia’s new payments platform, NPPA, which is expected to go live later in 2017.

Earlier this year, SWIFT announced the launch of an instant payments messaging solution, first for the European market, and elsewhere. It will allow instant payments to be made over the SWIFT network and provide customers with a single gateway to connect seamlessly to multiple instant payments systems.

It will offer connectivity to the Eurosystem’s TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) and will support the delivery of the future Eurosystem single gateway to TIPS, TARGET2 (T2) and TARGET2 for Securities (T2S) platforms.

With new technologies and start-up companies emerging in recent years and seeking to transform the wholesale and retail payment infrastructure, it seems one of the original pioneers is taking promising steps once again to re-design the global payment infrastructure once again.

Financial services and the fintech opportunity

A new report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) claims that fintech can improve both financial stability and access to services, but requires significant changes in regulation in order to flourish.

This sector has exploded in recent years, with banks, regulators and VCs throwing their weight (and money) behind a huge range of start-ups. The BIS has waded into the debate with a well-researched paper assessing the potential impact of fintech on the financial services industry.

Despite financial services readily adopting technological innovations which have transformed other industries (such as the internet and automation technologies), the cost of managing assets has stayed almost unchanged in 130 years.

In a working paper entitled ‘The Fintech Opportunity’, the BIS explores why operating costs in finance remains so surprisingly high, and how regulation creates barriers to further innovation which could bring down costs.

The fintech opportunity

While there is substantial analysis about how regulation has impacted the financial services sector over the past decade, we think the most interesting section of this report relates to how a new breed of fintech companies can be nurtured.

Fintech startups seek to disrupt the status quo with innovative solutions to new and existing problems. The paper argues that regulators could take advantage of the fintech movement to achieve some of the goals that have so far remained elusive.

There are huge opportunities to be gained from this. The key advantage of startups is that they are not held back by existing systems and are willing to make risky choices. In banking, for instance, successive mergers have left many large banks with layers of legacy technologies that are, at best, partly integrated.

The provides the opportunity for fintechs to build the right systems from the start. Moreover, they share a culture of efficient operational design that many incumbents do not have.

There are, however, many challenges to overcome. This includes the ability to correctly forecast the evolution of the industry, encouragement or interest from potential customers that can result in viable, widespread adoption, preventing a new company being swallowed up by incumbents and making sure that the new system does not create new inefficiencies or suffer from the flaws of incumbents.

Four guiding principles

The onus is on regulators to provide the right environment and incentives if they want fintechs to flourish.

The paper suggests four guidelines for regulators to consider:

  • Encourage entry and beware of a narrow approach to level-playing-field
  • Promote low leverage from the beginning
  • Keep incumbents in check with high equity ratios and be mindful of acquisition
  • Perfect is the enemy of good

These guidelines are discussed at length by the author, and we encourage you to read about them here.

But what’s interesting is that the guidelines do not require regulators to forecast which technology will succeed or which services should be unbundled, nor require regulators to force top-down structural changes onto powerful incumbents.

The reality is that no one knows when the ‘Uber’ of wholesale financial services will emerge or what it will look like. What we do know, however, is that a combination of restrictive regulations and powerful incumbents can certainly prevent entry.

While there have been promising fintech companies emerging across a range of sectors, creating and maintaining an environment that fosters creativity and innovation, and balancing this with systemic risk controls, is crucial for both financial stability and access to services.

A Reuters bon voyage… and welcome

So it’s bon voyage to Reuters’ Patrick Graham who is moving to India after almost four years covering the FX market.

Patrick covered the largest and most liquid financial market from its main trading centre in London through a period of profound change.

He now heads to Bangalore, where he will be overseeing over forty journalists at Reuters’ largest news bureau.

Chatsworth has worked closely with Patrick for many years and we wish him well as he embarks on this new stage of his career.

We also extend a warm welcome Patrick’s colleague Saikat to London, as joins the London FX team from his previous role covering Asian financial markets.

The rise and rise of artificial intelligence

Recent announcements from some of the largest banks show artificial intelligence (AI) working its way further into financial markets.

Credit Suisse has announced it is to deploy 150 new ‘robots’ over the course of the year, with an overall aim of cutting CHF 4.8 billion (GBP 3.7 billion).

UBS has unveiled a new AI system which uses machine learning to develop strategies for trading volatility on behalf of clients. The bank claims that this is the first ‘adaptive strategy’ product offered by an investment bank.

J.P. Morgan is developing a machine learning technology called LOXM which aims to improve execution quality in the bank’s European equities business. As the buy-side increasingly focuses on execution quality, this is driving ever greater adoption of algorithmic trading across asset classes. LOXM is programmed to learn from historical trading patterns and tweak its algorithmic strategies accordingly, using a technique J.P. Morgan calls ‘deep reinforcement learning’.

The ability to adapt and learn without human intervention allows LOXM to optimising the execution gains of algo trading.

Mosaic Smart Data is looking at how AI can improve trading across asset classes, taking on the challenge of providing machine learning capabilities to the FICC markets, which have far less standardised data and a greater portion of voice trading.

Mosaic provides both real time and predictive analytics insights for sell-side FICC traders, giving them a view of their market in a way that takes in far more data than a human being is able to comprehend. This augments the human trader’s capabilities and could lead to significant performance gains for sell-side FICC departments.

While initial uses of AI focused on process improvements, it is significant that the technology has reached a level where its insights are now helping to influence trading itself.

Although we are still some way from a fully automated robo-trader, this represents a significant increase in confidence in AI technology.

Cobalt closes investment from former Deutsche Bank COO Henry Ritchotte who also joins as Strategic Advisor

Cobalt, the FX post-trade processing network based on shared ledger technology, has closed an investment from Henry Ritchotte, the former Deutsche Bank COO who will also become a member of Cobalt’s strategic advisory board.

Henry Ritchotte spent over two decades at Deutsche Bank where he was a member of the Management Board and Group Executive Committee acting as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Digital Officer. Since leaving the bank at the end of 2016 Henry established RitMir Ventures, a principal investment firm focused on investing in products and services transforming finance through disruptive regulatory and technology driven business models.

Cobalt delivers a private peer-to-peer network that significantly reduces post-trade costs and risk for institutions operating in today’s FX markets. The platform is designed to create a single, shared view of a transaction on shared infrastructure and allows clients to reduce reconciliation and operational costs by up to 80%. With its production beta now live, Cobalt is ramping up to launch its live platform later this year.

Adrian Patten, Co-Founder of Cobalt, comments: “Henry’s investment reflects the increased interest our platform is receiving from the wider financial industry. With our innovative technology and his experience and knowledge, we are strongly positioned to redesign post-trade.”

Henry Ritchotte, Founder of RitMir Ventures, comments: “There has been comparatively little investment in post-trade over the past few decades. Cobalt’s network is an elegant solution that provides significant benefits for users and will reshape the industry as we know it. I look forward to working with the leadership team on their fresh approach to the post-trade challenges shared by all FX participants.”

ECB publicly endorses FX Global Code

The European Central Bank (ECB) has become the latest central bank to endorse the Bank of International Settlements’ (BIS) FX Global Code, joining others including the New York Federal Reserve and the Reserve Bank of Australia. This signals that currency-trading institutions who do not sign up may well find their counterparties limited in future.

Whilst the ECB did not issue a legal mandate for its currency market counterparties to sign up to the Code, market participants have been invited to publicly declare commitment to the Code by May 2018, one year on from its publication. It is clear that the central banks are taking the Code very seriously, and rightly so.

The Code sets out a comprehensive set of best practice guidelines which outline how all market participants, regardless of institution type, should behave in order to uphold the highest standards of transparency and ethics in the wholesale FX market.

Since the final version of the Code was published two months ago, many institutions have already committed to adopting it. Those that haven’t will likely be spurred into action by the ECB’s firm encouragement.

This advocacy for an important set of principles is to be welcomed.

Bank of England to boost fintech by opening up RTGS

The Bank of England (BoE) announced a framework to open up its interbank payment system to fintech firms.

The UK interbank payments landscape is currently dominated by CHAPS, a same-day sterling settlement service used to transfer large amounts between businesses, as well as for property purchases.

CHAPS’s central position in the market, processing 92% of interbank payments, however, represents a degree of risk to financial stability. In 2014, the system was suspended for several hours due to technical problems. This resulted in payments being held up and caused delays for house buyers as payments were not processed on time.

Newer fintech companies and challenger banks are also concerned that they will be at a disadvantage when working with the company, as it is owned by the UK’s four biggest banks.

In response to these concerns, the Bank of England last year announced a plan to widen access to its real time gross settlement (RTGS) payment service, the system which enables large sterling transfers on a real-time basis. This will allow non-banks to bypass systems like CHAPS and access a range of payment services directly from the BoE.

This week, the Bank took the next step with the release of a detailed technical framework for how the new system will operate.

Under the plans, a payment service provider (PSP) will be given access to the RTGS system) if it can demonstrate appropriate anti-money laundering checks and can keep customers money safe.

The Bank hopes this new approach will relieve some of the financial stability pressures from CHAPS, while giving smaller PSPs more confidence in their payment service relationships.

The move is a further boost to the growing retail fintech sector. Combined with the European Union’s second payment services directive (PSD II) next year, it will help to put these companies on a more even footing with their bigger competitors and open up competition in retail banking services.

With greater access to customer data through PSD II, and the ability to transfer large payments in real time, fintechs will now be able to compete far more effectively with their larger rivals.

The effect could be to push greater innovation from both banks and fintech companies. This can only be a good thing for end users.

SWIFT’s blockchain PoC could transform international payments

SWIFT has just added 22 new members to its Global Payments Innovation (GPI) project.

Banks have, for some time, been looking at a way to monitor their intraday payments, global positions, and liquidity exposures more effectively. This is in line with rules set out by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), which require banks to take into account metrics such as currencies and intraday exposures at correspondent banks.

Currently, a lack of intraday reporting coverage means banks have no way of monitoring the position of their Nostro accounts in real-time throughout the day.

If this vitally important sector is to be revitalised, finding a solution to monitoring payments in real-time, which can give banks more control and more confidence in managing their correspondent and corporate banking relationships, is vital.

There has been significant progress made on this front from one of the utilities at the center of the international financial system. SWIFT, the global provider of secure financial messaging and compliance services, has just added 22 new members to its Global Payments Innovation (GPI) project.

This could help transform the nature of international payments as we know it.

SWIFT launched a proof of concept (PoC) for its blockchain initiative earlier this year with six partner banks, as part of the SWIFT GPI, to provide the first system enabling real time monitoring of Nostro accounts.

There is growing momentum behind the project. Last week, a further 22 banks, including Lloyds in the UK, JPMorgan Chase in the US, Standard Bank in South Africa and Westpac Banking Corporation in Australia, all joined the PoC.

There is a lot of enthusiasm and anticipation about the outcome of the PoC. If banks could manage their Nostro account liquidity in real-time, it would allow them to accurately gauge how much money is required in each account at any given point. This would enable them to free up significant funds for other investments and reduce the cost of correspondent banking.

This PoC is a key example of the way in which industry leaders across the financial markets have been bringing the industry together to collaborate on projects using new technologies to tackle industry wide problems.

Although there are other companies launching similar initiatives, SWIFT benefits from its long-standing position of trust and neutrality at the heart of the financial sector. As a result, it is able to bring together banks, technology providers (such as Hyperledger which developed the blockchain technology for this PoC) and other industry stakeholders to find innovative and meaningful ways of introducing potentially transformative technologies.

“The proof of concept is about the accounts banks hold between themselves,” says Wim Raymaekers, Global Head of Banking Market at SWIFT. “Banks are exchanging information today; what we want to see with blockchain is those status information reports being exchanged, as banks don’t always know the levels of their Nostro accounts on a per transaction basis. Most often, banks get that information at the end of the day but they also want to know how much money is in their accounts in real-time.”

The results of this initial PoC are due to be announced at Sibos later in Toronto in October. We look forward to seeing them with great interest.

 

Chatsworth congratulates Pragma and Cobalt on FX Week e-FX Award wins

Leading industry trade publication FX Week has announced the winners of its prestigious e-FX Awards, which included two of Chatsworth’s foreign exchange clients.

The awards recognise firms from across the foreign exchange industry for their excellence and innovation in the world’s most liquid financial market.

Announcing the award winners, FX Week editor Eva Szalay said technology in the market was “booming”, pointing out that “innovation has been extended to small start-ups, as well as the largest players” and highlighted the market’s “genuine desire to become more transparent, more competent and highly innovative”.

Innovation was certainly in evidence from algorithmic trading technology provider Pragma Securities, which was named Best independent algorithmic trading technology provider, and post-trade distributed ledger technology company Cobalt, which was awarded e-FX initiative of the year award.

Pragma

Reflecting on the increasing sophistication amongst the buy-side and the push for best execution in FX, Pragma has seen rapid growth and expansion over the past 12 months.

The company serves banks, brokers and sophisticated buy-side institutions, and identifies its value proposition around transparency and control as differentiating features.

It added a number of new capabilities to its Pragma360 algorithmic trading platform. This includes algorithmic trading non-deliverable forwards (NDFs), which offers traders better execution when investing in popular emerging market currencies.

It has also expanded its international client base through a new connectivity presence at Equinix’s LD6 data centre in London, providing lower latency connection to London based FX matching engines.

Cobalt

Cobalt has a very eye-catching proposition – it uses distributed ledger technology to cut 80% of the costs of post-trade reporting.

Founded by former Traiana executive Andy Coyne, and Adrian Patten, the company is offering to completely revolutionise the costly and time-consuming way in which post-trade FX services are conducted, cutting out duplication by storing records of all transactions on a single distributed ledger.

“I think if we are successful, the biggest impact will be on trading and Cobalt will increase volumes. Post-trade costs are a tax on trading and the idea that you can charge someone 50 cents to a buck for sending an unencrypted message to the back office is ridiculous.

“So if we can reduce those costs by dollars per transaction, that will feed into increasing volumes,” Patten tells FX Week.

The team at Chatsworth would like to congratulate both Cobalt and Pragma on their well-deserved award wins.

Previse secures backing to end late B2B payments with the help of AI

Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy, generating some 50% of private sector turnover and employing three out of five private sector workers.

However, these businesses are held back by late payments from their large corporate clients. With 60% of SMEs paid late by corporates, businesses are left strapped for cash to meet their own payment obligations, such as wages, stock and rent. This cash flow crisis forces 50,000 UK companies a year to go to the wall. 

Banks play a role in easing the problem, offering larger suppliers short-term financing or buying the invoices directly from suppliers for a substantial discount, a practice known as factoring. Both these solutions are expensive for the supplier, however, which pushes up prices for the whole payments chain. In addition, given the fragmented and high-risk nature of the SME credit market, only the largest suppliers are able to secure credit.

This means that, according to the world bank, there is $2.4 trillion in unmet demand for financing from SMEs globally.

Enter Previse. The company, which this week announced the successful completion of a £2 million seed round, is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to allow banks to meet the financing needs of SME suppliers in a scalable and low-risk way.

Previse uses advanced AI and hundreds of millions of data points to score the likelihood that a corporate buyer will be able to pay a supplier’s invoice. This score is then provided to banks and other funders who use that information to instantly pay the SME on behalf of the large corporate. The supplier receives their money the day they issue their invoice, giving them complete cash flow confidence.

The effect is that “instant, frictionless and efficient payments become the new standard for B2B payments,” according to Paul Christensen, co-founder and CEO of Previse.

The rest of the payments chain benefits as well. By offering such a service, buyers can negotiate a discount on their purchasing costs and banks can reach much deeper into the SME credit market without blowing their risk exposure. The net effect could be a several billion-pound boost to the UK economy every year.

To find out more about Previse seed funding please click here