Limeglass announces new investment from J.P. Morgan

Limeglass, the financial research innovation company, today announced that J.P. Morgan has invested in the company. Limeglass’s technology automatically analyses the paragraphs in research documents in real-time, taking into account the underlining context and structure. The Limeglass ‘Research Atomisation’ solution uses proprietary rich Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI, machine learning and their comprehensive cross-asset and macro taxonomy to smart-tag each paragraph in context.

Limeglass recently completed J.P. Morgan’s In-Residence Program, which incubates emerging technology companies to develop production-ready solutions solving for critical wholesale banking problems. Limeglass’s technology enables banks to personalise their research product for both internal and external audiences, maximising the value for users and ensuring that the correct research reaches the correct audiences.

Rowland Park, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Limeglass, said: “The volume of financial research, and the lack of innovation in how it is delivered, mean that market participants can spend hours searching through their email to find information on the trades they are considering. It is all too easy to miss vital information buried deep in large documents, wasting time and valuable research insights. Limeglass cuts through the noise, providing users with only the relevant paragraphs in their financial research with a simple search.”

Hussein Malik, Head of Transformation & Implementation across Sales & Research at J.P. Morgan, said: “The insights our Research teams produce daily are a huge source of value to our clients. We are continuously investing in technology to help deliver industry-leading content and to help us and our clients further mine that value.”

Simon Gregory, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Limeglass, said: “Having worked in research for all my life, I was always surprised at how much research was being missed by users.  We looked at the research consumption and distribution workflows from first principles and realised that the document centric approach was limiting access to the content.  Using cutting edge technology to analyse the unstructured data in research documents, we’ve created a whole new way for market participants to engage with financial research.”

Wematch strengthens team

Wematch, the global multi-asset-class, web-based matching and negotiation platform, has appointed Jack Jeffery as Chairman of its Board.

With more than 35 years’ experience in financial markets, Jack was previously CEO at electronic fixed income platform MTS and also at EBS, the spot FX electronic broking platform. Jack served 11 years at Citigroup, where he was Global Head of FX options.

Jack has previously served on the Bank of England and US Federal Reserve Foreign Exchange committees and hisappointment follows Wematch’s recent funding round, which saw banking titans J.P. Morgan and Société Générale – both users of Wematch – invest in the fintech. There are now 40 banks and more than 750 traders using Wematch’s platform, with more currently onboarding.

Wematch provides technology to transform how traders match, negotiate and manage trades. This brings the audit and control benefits of electronic tools to trading, delivered as web-based software-as-a-service technology. This significantly cuts costs and, enhances the orderly execution of processes for traders, enabling seamless settlement.

Despite the growth and benefits of e-trading, in some markets institutional investors still conduct most of this activity over the phone, or through interdealer brokers. It is estimated that more than 80% of structured products and 80% of FX derivatives are still transacted by voice. To put it into context, the interest rate swaps market is worth $2.1 trillion a day, with more than 70% of that business handled by phone negotiation.

Jack Jeffery, Chairman of Wematch, said: “The Wematch platform represents an extraordinarily significant step forward in the world of inter-bank trading. Its proprietary architecture enables enhanced efficiencies, providing enormous cost benefits as well as improving regulatory compliance. As a neutral platform that is constantly developing to the markets’ needs, Wematch is reshaping the trading market. It is the right product at the right time.

“Having built my career bringing electronic innovation to the capital markets, I am thrilled to be part of a team that is leading such a profound transformation in the market.”

Joseph Seroussi, co-CEO of Wematch, said: “The voice market remains robust and an integral part of the trading process – its continued usage is a demonstration of its fundamental importance to participants’ business. But it is time that traders have the best technological tools to facilitate optimal trading with confidence. Jack Jeffery’s experience will be invaluable to Wematch as we work to bring the benefits of electronic trading’s auditing and transparency to traders across capital markets.”

Gregory Mimoun, co-CEO of Wematch, said: “Jack has an impeccable track record of steering technical innovation across multiple asset classes which have benefited those markets enormously.

“His appointment is a significant vote of confidence in our technology and our business. We are delighted to welcome him to Wematch as we move to the next exciting chapter in our vision to transform trading markets.”

CordaCon 2019 – developers and business leaders pack out London event

  • R3 momentum increases as ecosystem swells to over 350 firms
  • Annual conference attracts over 1,100 attendees
  • CEO predicts traditional business models and technology must change or face extinction

Traditional business models remain under threat across the full value chain as enterprise blockchain continues to gain momentum, according to R3 CEO & Founder, David E Rutter

His comments came during R3’s annual CordaCon event, attended by over 1,100 developers, business leaders and industry experts in the heart of London’s financial district. The event drew a significant increase on previous years.

Since inception four years ago, R3 has risen to become a key player in blockchain-inspired technology to enhance a range of business processes including trade finance, insurance and financial services. R3’s global blockchain ecosystem has now grown to over 350 companies.

Among the announcements at CordaCon included a strategic partnership with Accenture and SAP, for R3’s Corda platform to enable two of the tech industry’s major players to provide a real-time gross settlement token-based exchange, with instantaneous settlements to reduce friction throughout the transaction chain.

Mr Rutter added: “Traditional business models are under threat across the full value chain. We will see the continued convergence of traditional Financial Market Infrastructure and broker businesses such as SIX, NY Stock Exchange, and Nasdaq with the crypto exchange world, such as Coinbase and Binance. We’ll also see new players emerge and the nimblest will win.”

Many of R3’s early adopters were at the event to talk about the work they are doing on Corda—such as TradeIX with Marco Polo, CryptoBLK with project Voltron, The Institutes Risk Alliance, SDX, B3i and ABI Lab to name a few.

Mr Rutter is a financial services veteran, having served as CEO of ICAP’s electronic broking division, before forming R3 and US treasuries platform LiquidityEdge, in the process of being acquired by MarketAxess in a USD 150 million deal

Mr Rutter added: “Corda’s longer term product strategy includes delivering capability on settlement and value transfer because we fundamentally believe we are embarking upon the beginning of a ‘tokenization of everything’ era. Digital Assets or tokens will reimagine how value is moved and managed and will fundamentally change the nature of business.

“Security tokens are squarely now under the purview of the regulators and will fall under global securities regulation. I believe long-term success and sustainability of tokens must rely on compliance with key principles pushed by the maturing regulatory framework. We will need a strong, well balanced ecosystem, regulatory framework, innovative mindset, and know-how from existing market infrastructure, as well as the right enterprise technology.

“We expect to see further enterprise blockchain consolidation. A year or two ago there were dozens maybe more platforms aspiring to be enterprise blockchains and we are already down to two real contenders in Corda and Fabric, with many other still trying to make Ethereum work at scale with proper privacy protections.

“On Interoperability, as applications go into production the need for seamless interoperability becomes more evident, so the surviving platforms need a rock solid interoperability story. I believe what we call “business network operators” the solution providers and of course their customers know that there won’t be just one solution for say Trade Finance so being able to send obligations to other customers on other BNO becomes an absolute necessity.

“The second order of this would be interoperability between blockchains and I think I was first asked about this over four years ago and the story for me is the same. While I think that may be important over a longer time frame it’s not a next year crucial deliverable.  And for us anyway we are just looking to further solidify our interoperability story and I am pleased we have been focused on this for some time now.”

Forex Broker FXCM Launches Basket of 5 Cryptos for Retail Investors

Foreign exchange trading platform FXCM Group has launched a basket of five cryptocurrencies aimed at retail investors.

Dubbed CryptoMajor, the basket product includes bitcoin (BTC), XRP, litecoin (LTC), bitcoin cash (BCH) and ethereum (ETH), which are equally weighted to protect against market volatility, the firm said in an announcement Monday. The five cryptos are already traded on its platform.

Speaking on launch, CEO Brendan Callan said the product simplifies crypto investment for retail users:

“Trading a basket of cryptocurrencies means our users are freed from the hassle of constantly monitoring the markets. CryptoMajor therefore streamlines the trading process and protects our customers from unanticipated and adverse market movements.”

The product is targeted at customers seeking to enter the nascent crypto market, Callan said, but who “don’t want to risk too much overexposure.”

Under its previous owner, Global Brokerage, Inc, FXCM notably lost its license with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in addition to receiving a $7 million fine, for trading against its own customers in 2017, according to the Financial Times.

After two of the company’s founders were banned from the U.S. financial industry, the London-based company exited the U.S. market. It’s now majority owned by Leucadia Investments, part of the Jefferies Financial Group, according to the FXCM website.

LiquidityEdge licenses Mosaic MSX analytics platform

Liquidity Edge, the electronic US Treasuries trading venue, has signed a deal to license Mosaic Smart Data MSX platform to provide venue analytics across its portfolio of marketplaces.

Mosaic Smart Data will give LiquidityEdge a package of analytics that will help the latter to monitor and compare liquidity in the markets to ensure smooth market operation, better trading efficiency and growth facilitation.

These additional analytics will help in comprehending the transaction flow and behaviour of market participants and calculation of market impact, as well as transaction costs. The MSX platform has anomaly detection tools that are built on machine learning tools, that will point to any abnormal market activity that may trigger a rising issue. So, once such an action is detected, preventive measures will be taken to maintain normal market operations.

Market liquidity in fixed income decreases and this creates an obstacle for trading venues to acknowledge possible challenges in their platforms in advance and fix the issues, so solution to fix this problem are constantly sought after.

The deal between LiquidityEdge and Mosaic Smart Data is the result of long collaboration between the two to develop analytic tools for trading operations. The service will be first used by LiquidityEdge on the back-end to get insights on the performance of the trading venue, and afterwards – for insights for market participants.

LiquidityEdge will serve as a SaaS feature with the MSX platform fully managed by Mosaic Smart Data.

This is what the CEO of LiquidityEdge, Mr. Nichola Hunter said:

“We built LiquidityEdge to challenge existing market structures and ‘business as usual’ in the Treasuries market. So, we’re always on the lookout for innovation which will enable us to deliver a better experience to our users. The MSX platform harnesses the power of our order book to deliver finely grained analysis and actionable insights delivering performance improvements for LiquidityEdge and our users.”

FX post-trade network Cobalt goes live

JP Morgan and SocGen invest in Wematch

JP Morgan and Societe Generale have invested in fintech firm, Wematch, as the company advances its plans to transform traditionally voice-traded financial markets.

Wematch provides technology which augments how traders at banks match, negotiate and manage trades. This brings the audit and control benefits of electronic tools to voice trading, delivered as web-based software-as-a-service technology.

There are now 40 banks and more than 750 traders on Wematch cross assets with more onboarding and billions of dollars in deal flows matched using its technology.

Despite the growth and benefits of e-trading, in some markets institutional investors still conduct most of their trading over the phone, or through interdealer brokers.

Wematch delivers the benefits of the newest web technologies to traders at banks, improving the matching and negotiation process, cutting costs for banks and increasing efficiency and reducing conduct risk for traders.

Wematch came through J.P. Morgan’s In-Residence Programme and Societe Generale’s Global Markets Incubator to foster the expansion of the fintech’s offer across asset classes and instruments.

The funding takes J.P. Morgan’s and Societe Generale’s relationship with Wematch from users to investors, with the banks already active on Wematch across all existing platforms.

There is enormous potential for Wematch to help the capital market industry in further adopting digital solutions across multiple markets globally, and to adapt this awarded technology to internal and client-facing solutions.

Despite pressure from regulators for more trades to be conducted on electronic trading venues, it is estimated that over 80% of structured products and FX derivatives are still transacted by voice.

The interest rate swaps market is worth USD 2.1 trillion a day, according to the Bank for International Settlements, with over 70% of that business handled by phone negotiation.

Gregory Mimoun, co-CEO of Wematch, said: “Wematch is delivering the next generation in trading protocols, with intuitive GUIs and workflow tools to give voice trading professionals the edge. Everything we build is designed to support the trader’s decision, giving them the tools to make the right call with confidence and certainty.”

Joseph Seroussi, co-CEO of Wematch, said: “Wematch is leveraging on the latest available technologies and the traders’ community permanent feedbacks and inputs to develop its capital market solutions. Our objective is to have a significant impact on the bottom line expenses of Financial Institutions by rolling out the Wematch technology on all markets, internal, or dealer-to-client activities.”

Pasquale Cataldi, Head of Markets Lab, J.P. Morgan, said: “J.P. Morgan was an early supporter of WeMatch. As a member of our InResidence Programme, the platform showed real potential to transform the interbank interest rate dealing market through automation, resulting in audit and control benefits. The level of market adoption has already been encouraging and we’re delighted to continue the journey with them.”

Albert Loo, Deputy Head of Sales for Global Markets at Societe Generale, said: “Societe Generale is excited to contribute to the Wematch development after a successful collaboration within our Global Markets Incubator. Innovation in trading technology will drive efficiencies for market participants and we strongly believe that Wematch can sustainably improve dealing processes across asset classes.”

Wematch launched its interest rates offering in June, with 10 banks matching and negotiating Euro IRS curves, butterflies, basis and gadgets structures, with single stock & Index options to follow in the coming months.

This was built on existing Wematch services for securities lending and equity derivatives and the firm now plans to build out services to more asset classes and instruments.

Mastercard, R3 to Develop Blockchain Cross-Border Payments Platform

Payments giant Mastercard is to develop a blockchain-powered cross-border payments platform in partnership with enterprise-focused blockchain firm R3.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Mastercard said the two firms have inked a deal to “develop and pilot” the payments solution. It will initially be aimed at connecting faster payments schemes and banks backed by Mastercard’s clearing and settlement network.

The platform will be built on Corda Enterprise, the commercial version of the platform, as opposed to the open-source Corda Network, R3 told CoinDesk.

The partnership is planned to merge R3’s expertise at developing blockchain solutions with Mastercard’s existing payment systems and network. Ultimately, the firms hope the new platform will help tackle industry issues such as costly payments processing, liquidity management and a paucity of standardization and connectivity between banks and domestic clearing systems.

R3 CEO David E. Rutter said:

“All institutions – large or small – rely on the ability to send and receive payments, but all too often the technology they rely upon is cumbersome and expensive. Cross-border payments can be a particular pain point. Corda was designed specifically for enterprise use cases such as this, and we look forward supporting Mastercard in bringing blockchain-enabled payments businesses across the globe.”

Citing its July acquisition of international payments firm Transfast as a boost to its network, Mastercard said the deal to utilize Corda Enterprise will further expand its capabilities in the payments arena.

The news of the partnership also comes just days after Mastercard joined the Marco Polo trade finance blockchain network founded by R3 and TradeIX.

Peter Klein, executive vice president of new payment platforms at Mastercard, said in the announcement:

“Developing a new and better cross-border B2B payments solution by improving worldwide connectivity in the account-to-account space is central to Mastercard’s ambition. Our goal is to deliver global payment infrastructure choice and connectivity as demonstrated through our recent strategic acquisitions and partnerships, including our relationship with R3.”

FX Operations and Credit: Hampering Liquidity, Raising Costs (White Paper)

The FX market currently looks like the ultimate mismatch. Front office processes have been transformed to accommodate the realities of electronic trading – operations and credit haven’t. This is acting as a drag on FX liquidity, as well as imposing an enormous cost burden: ~£20bn per year for the top global investment banks and buy-side institutions. Fortunately, as Anoushka Rayner, Global Head of Sales and Business Development at Cobalt explains, there is a simple and readily achievable remedy: centralised standardisation.

The FX market has a proven track record for acting on its own initiative to ensure that trading is always orderly and unnecessary risks are curtailed, with the creation of CLS an obvious example. There is now a pressing need for it to act in similar fashion to address the issues of post-trade processing and credit management.

Operational Drag

The FX front office has evolved to accommodate the shift from a voice brokered market – resulting in transparency, efficiency, liquidity and consistency – by bringing counterparties together so they can interact more effectively. In doing so, all participants have benefited from lower frictional costs and greater transparency.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of FX post-trade processing, which still uses much of the same basic infrastructure it used to support voice broking. In two decades, it has remained essentially unchanged, resulting in legacy processes/practices that are wholly unsuited to supporting electronic trading as conducted in today’s FX front offices. These processes/practices are also excessively costly, to the extent that post-trade costs can now even exceed the potential profit from the execution of a trade.

At the core of the problem are the fragmentation, replication and complexity of internal processes. This is hardly surprising given that at least 23 services are usually involved in managing current FX post-trade activities, which inflates both costs and operational risks. Multiple vendors are needed, as are multiple copies of the same trade (20+ is not untypical). At the same time, existing legacy processing technology cannot keep up with market evolution and so requires additional outlay to pay for the manual processes needed to cover its shortcomings.

In some cases, extremely costly processes persist. These could be dispensed with altogether in a more efficient processing environment. A case in point are confirmations, the costs of which at some top tier FX banks – just for their EB and PB businesses alone – run to nearly USD5mn per year.

Attempts to respond to changes in the front office by changing post-trade methods have also made the situation worse, as new substandard processes are layered on top of an already fragile and inefficient process stack. Each new process added therefore effectively exacerbates an already suboptimal process flow, in terms of both cost and risk.

These issues apply across all FX-related instruments, which when one considers that volume in uncleared FX derivatives (a market approximately twice the size of spot) totaled ~USD88trn at 2018-year end, illustrates the sheer magnitude of the problem. In fact, for FX derivatives, the risks and costs of these operational limitations are even more acute, as the processes involved are more complex than for spot.

These issues are collectively hampering the FX market’s overall efficiency and growth. This applies across bank to client, bank to bank and prime brokerage segments. In some cases, it is already causing market distortion, such as driving participants to review their position in FX prime brokerage. Given the FX market’s established reputation for resolving structural issues of this nature, it should be possible to find a solution internally, rather than directly involving external bodies, such as regulators.

Credit

A related area that is also creating unnecessary cost and risk – as well as damping liquidity growth – is credit management. Given the large trading volumes now conducted via API and at high frequency, FX is probably the market least tolerant of latency. Yet despite this, antiquated and fragmented credit management processes still persist, causing significant practical problems. Workaround remedies have emerged in an attempt to address these but create different problems instead. Credit kill switches are a case in point, because they can create disputes when clients find themselves having to reduce positions at unfavourable prices and also requiring a manual unwinding process, exposing both clients and banks to further issues.

Credit-related risks, such as over-commitment, still remain stubbornly high, while workaround remedies actually reduce credit efficiency, such as over-allocating to accommodate localised management of credit within venues. Costs are also an issue in credit management, with top tier banks spending considerable amounts unnecessarily on redundant/inefficient credit processes and technology.

The Remedy

The good news is that a solution is already entirely achievable at technical level. The obvious remedy is a single centralised shared ledger platform using standardised data that can handle all the necessary post-trade activities (plus credit) in one solution. It would mean that compliance with many of the principles in the GFXC’s FX Global Code of Conduct could become an achievable and immediate reality rather than merely being aspirational. A case in point is the principle relating to real time monitoring of trading permissions and credit provision

A centralised industry shared ledger platform would deliver multiple practical benefits across the market place. The most obvious would be to eliminate duplication and cost saving. Instead of running multiple versions of inadequate processes, participants could handle trades using a single set of consistent industry-standard processes. In the long term this could deliver cost savings of up to 80%, with ~50% possible in the medium term.

An additional benefit is cost transparency. In the current environment, with the accumulation of multiple layers of legacy operations and credit technology/processes, it is often extremely difficult to determine the post-trade cost of a transaction. A central standardised process would by contrast make the measurement and monitoring of post-trade costs straightforward and potentially deliver the same degree of transparency as already available for FX execution costs.

This shared ledger approach would also deliver various credit management benefits. For instance, the availability of near real time credit data would enable more efficient credit processes, such as:

  • Preventing erroneous credit cut-offs (thus improving client relations)
  • Making more efficient use of available lines
  • Avoiding over-commitment risks
  • Alleviating balance sheet pressure

Centralising credit management using a shared ledger enables more dynamic control across all types of trading relationship (bilateral, tri party and quadri party). This will dispense with the need for over-allocation and rebalancing in order to accommodate localised management of credit within venues. Those issuing credit will also be taking control of it (as is the case in equity markets) and will therefore be able to recycle it back into the market in the most efficient manner (a key consideration for non-CLS currencies and non-CLS members). Ultimately this will result in venues receiving business because they offer the best price, not because there is residual credit left at them.

In operational terms, workloads will also reduce when using this sort of solution, as less remediation will be required. Efficient credit management and automated processing will drive a reduction in failed trades, thereby also reducing the need for manual intervention and repair.

Liquidity and Regulation

The cost and efficiency benefits delivered by a centralised industry shared ledger platform have important implications for liquidity and market participation. Trading volumes in G7 pairs have been declining in recent years for a variety of reasons, but operational/credit inefficiencies are clearly playing some part if they are cutting trade margins to near zero.

If individual ticket processing costs decline significantly, then logically this will boost existing participants’ willingness to trade, both in general, but also potentially in smaller transaction sizes. By the same token, new participants may be encouraged to join the market once they can see that the processing cost burden and operational risks have been alleviated.

Finally, there are also prospective regulatory advantages to the FX market adopting a centralised shared ledger solution. Some regulators are already clearly aware of the issues, as shown by the FCA and BoE’s convening of a ‘Technology Working Group’ to reform post-trade processing so as to reduce complexity, encourage innovation, and improve systemic resilience. A shared ledger platform could support this initiative in various ways, but one of the most obvious is with regulatory filings.

At present, participants (often using manually intensive processes) incur substantial costs collecting trade data and submitting it to regulators. Market-wide adoption of a shared ledger solution would instead make it possible for participants to submit regulatory filings far more easily, plus do so in a consistent format. This would enable better monitoring of any potential systemic risks, plus delivering lower regulatory costs for all concerned (including regulators). Central banks could send a strong message here by adopting a shared ledger solution for their own trading activities, which would also serve as a clear signal to the organisations they regulate.

Conclusion

Adopting a single centralised utility for FX post-trade functions based on a common data standard ticks numerous boxes for all market participants. These include considerable cost savings, reduced credit/operational risks and better use of balance sheet, which in turn also facilitate greater trading activity and more diverse participation, as well as enhanced price discovery and lower regulatory overheads. Finally, it will also reinforce the FX industry’s existing reputation for innovating in the common interests of all market participants.

Five more banks and financial institutions join the Trade Finance Distribution Initiative

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), ABN Amro, London Forfaiting Company, Crown Agents Bank and Natixis have joined the Trade Finance Distribution Initiative (TFD Initiative).

They join ANZ, Crédit Agricole CIB, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Lloyds Bank, Rabobank, Standard Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as members.

The TFD Initiative is an industry-wide drive to use technology and standardisation for the wider distribution of trade finance assets. Since launching earlier this year, a growing number of banks, institutional investors, trade associations and trade finance service providers have joined as members.

Trade finance presents a compelling multi-trillion dollar investment opportunity for institutional investors seeking sources of long-term, low-risk returns based on the tangible flows of goods and services. However, there is no scalable market infrastructure in existence to facilitate the exchange of trade finance assets between banks and institutional investors.

This has led to the creation of the TFD Initiative. Its members will work together to utilise and adopt a common infrastructure powered by Tradeteq, the global trade finance distribution platform. Tradeteq’s technology allows banks and institutional investors to efficiently connect, interact and transact. It uses machine learning technology for supply chain predictive analysis, transaction level credit scoring, risk management, reporting and portfolio composition.

Anne-Cécile Delas, Global Head of Trade & Treasury Solutions at Natixis, said: “The distribution of our trade finance assets is key to better serving our clients. Networks like the TFD initiative, gathering banking, regulatory and buy-side sectors, will help to make trade finance assets more accessible to a wider range of investors, in a standard and processed way.”

Sylvain Labattu, Executive Director in Global Commodities & Trade team at CBA, said: “We view the TFD Initiative as a crucial process in the opening up of risk distribution in the trade finance asset class. Staying at the forefront of industry-wide technological and process developments enables us to better connect with and serve both our domestic and global corporate client base through excellence in structuring and distribution, access to data and analytics, and best in class corporate digital offering.

Simon Lay, CEO at London Forfaiting Company, said: “We are pleased to become a member of the TFD Initiative and help shape the use of enhanced technology in our industry. The interest in this forum signals that there is growing interest to establish trade finance as a liquid and scalable asset class to a new investor pool. We all stand to gain by increasing collaboration, leveraging new technologies and adopting standardised processes in the trade finance space.”

Robert Pothoven, Associate Director at ABN Amro, said: “We look forward to collaborating with other members of the TFD Initiative and believe bringing the industry together offers a great opportunity to drive forward adoption of more efficient technology throughout the trade finance market.”

Duarte Pedreira, Head of Trade Finance at Crown Agents Bank, said: “The TFD Initiative has the potential to reshape the trade finance market. By opening up the asset class and making it more accessible outside of the traditional banking world, the TFD Initiative is, in essence, creating a fairer playing field, where non-bank investors can also benefit from the excellent risk/reward opportunities presented by trade finance assets. Crown Agents Bank is proud to work alongside our peers to optimise the benefits of trade finance to our clients.”

André Casterman, Board Member at Tradeteq and Chair of the Fintech Committee at the International Trade and Forfaiting Association, adds: “We are pleased to welcome our latest members. The existing trade finance infrastructure that institutions rely on is outdated, and the industry is on the cusp of change. This is a truly international, collaborative effort that includes the banking community, institutional investors, trade associations and other service providers.

“Our members have told us how the benefits of greater trade finance distribution will be felt along the entire trade finance supply chain, from issuers providing letters of credit right through to corporations seeking cross-border funding. By working together, we are one step closer to achieving our objectives.”

Renowned Professor, Rama Cont, joins Mosaic Smart Data as Scientific Advisor

Mosaic Smart Data (Mosaic), the real-time capital markets data analytics company, has appointed Oxford University Professor of Mathematical Finance, Rama Cont, as Scientific Advisor.

Professor Cont’s role will be to help Mosaic Smart Data utilise the latest academic quantitative finance research in the development of its machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics capabilities. Professor Cont will work directly with Mosaic Smart Data’s data science team to make the latest in data science technology available to Mosaic’s customers, as well as guiding Mosaic’s R&D activities.

In addition, he will contribute to Mosaic’s quant talent recruitment and develop links with the broader research community.

Professor Cont was appointed Professor of Mathematical Finance at St Hugh’s College Oxford in 2018. Previously, he held the Chair of Mathematical Finance at Imperial College London and has 20 years of experience working with the financial markets.

Rama Cont said: “What intrigued me most about working with Mosaic Smart Data was the opportunity to take the theoretical work we are doing on the academic side and demonstrate its practical application in the cut and thrust of the capital markets. Mosaic Smart Data’s customer base, with some of the world’s top financial institutions, provides an unparalleled opportunity to apply this academic research for the best of the best.

“By bringing together Mosaic’s team of highly experienced data scientists with our own world-class researchers, we have an incredible opportunity to bring the most advanced data science ideas to real-world applications. This will strengthen both the Mosaic platform and academic research efforts.”

Matthew Hodgson, CEO and founder of Mosaic Smart Data, said: “The firms that succeed in tomorrow’s markets will be those which can harness their data most effectively, extracting the most useful insights in real-time to drive productivity and performance. Our mission is to provide the tools to make that happen.

“We’ve been working with the scientific community since our beginnings and in 2018, Mosaic became the first fintech to collaborate with the European Space Agency. By working with Rama, we will have direct access to the most promising research being developed at the world’s top institutions to ensure that Mosaic Smart Data’s analytics is always at the leading edge of what’s possible in the capital markets.

London maintains its grip on global FX market

London has become a hub for Chinese yuan trading and continues to solidify its role at the centre of the global FX markets – even with the spectre of Brexit looming on the horizon – according to the latest data from the Foreign Exchange Joint Standing Committee (FXJSC).

Chaired by the Bank of England, the FXJSC’s semi-annual turnover survey is considered a benchmark for the health of the UK’s wholesale FX market. The numbers for the six-month period leading up to October 2018 were published earlier this week and showed a sharp 17% rise in yuan turnover compared to the April 2018 results.

In particular, USD/CNY turnover increased to a staggering $73 billion per day, its highest absolute turnover to date, and overtook EUR/GBP as the seventh most traded currency pair in London. The UK government has made a concerted effort to promote yuan trading since its internationalisation began and the FXJSC numbers indicate that the hard work is now paying off, according to Pragma Securities, an algorithmic trading technology provider.

This marks a notable moment for what is arguably the most important emerging currency to the global economy. By promoting free use of the yuan, the Chinese monetary authority is enabling Chinese corporates and financial institutions to develop their businesses overseas, which in turn is leading to a continued rise in the currency’s market share.

FX – the largest and most interconnected of global markets – is the crowning jewel of London’s financial services industry and the City is a natural hub for the yuan as it continues its path to internationalisation.

More broadly, the FXJSC survey pegged average daily UK FX turnover at USD 2,611 billion in October 2018, the third largest turnover figure on record for the survey. While this represents a fall of 4% from the record high of $2,727 billion reported in April 2018, it still makes for promising reading in the uncertain macroeconomic and political climate.

In particular, FX spot activity rose to $775 billion, its highest level since April 2015 and a year-on-year increase of 11%. This growth in spot activity was also seen in data released by the Fed in New York, and is reflective of the bouts of volatility which spurred higher trading volumes on electronic platforms such as ParFX.

With the March 29th Brexit deadline fast approaching, the UK could find itself in a very different position when the results of the next FXJSC survey are published, but the signs look overwhelmingly positive for the UK maintaining its tight grip on the global FX market.

Sibos London – plan ahead with military precision to get the best results

It’s that time of year when the great and the *good of global finance converge to hobnob and sell to each other in an exclusive global venue.

No, not Davos. That’s all after-parties, skiing and Leo DiCaprio…we’re talking about Sibos, SWIFT’s annual payments summit.

This year it’s in London. In September. Take away the dead summer months and that’s not far off.

With its frequently brilliant Innotribe sessions and a solid line-up of speakers and panellists, the event has become an unmissable fixture in the financial year for both established and challenger financial firms

Over 7,500 delegates attended Sibos in Sydney last year. Expect that to increase substantially, as London is such a sweet spot as a financial technology hub.

Thousands of financial professionals are going to visit this year.

Chatsworth’s advice? Start planning and booking now. Side venues, hotel rooms, camels, whatever you need. It’s going to be a busy one.

We’ve been covering Sibos for many years, helping our clients make an impact with their investment. We cannot emphasise enough the need to plan from now to maximise your investment.

Don’t commit the funds and then scrabble around two months beforehand. Think about your content. Plan your marketing and PR like a military campaign.

Sibos creates an ocean of announcements, deals and commentary. The media attendance at Sibos is pretty good, but these poor folks get slammed with press releases and announcements.

Make sure you craft your news for optimal market relevance. Got data/analytics? Share it. Contextualise your story. Make your announcements and data market relevant.

So how do you create cut-through when hundreds of other firms are looking to do precisely the same?

Plan your meeting schedule with military precision. And speak to the Sibos team – they are helpful, experienced and will advise you.

Smart social media. Obsess over the conference schedule – map your content to the speaker sessions and your organisation’s view.

Don’t just bang out pointless posts saying something is ‘interesting’ or ‘insightful’ and never reduce yourself to only liking other content. Engage in the debate. If you have a position, share it and build your audience.

And importantly, don’t forget about the people who are not there. More people read about Davos than attend it. The same goes for Sibos; communicate outside of the goldfish bowl.

Overall, get on the case now – don’t wait until August. If your organisation is attending, this will likely be one of your largest marketing and communications investments this year.

Fail to plan, plan to fail. As a US four-star general once said: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

*it’s all relative

Using effective infographics to frame your business narrative

The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is a vast underestimation. In fact, the human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than it does text.

Communication is 93% non-verbal, even in the virtual online space. The brain sees in pictures and that’s how you can easily access your memory.

Images communicate. They make us curious and stimulate our minds as we view them. Visual content works and infographics, in particular, offer a highly effective way in conveying complex information in a simple and concise way.

Infographics are great for breaking down research and multiple data points into a digestible format. As a result, they are one of the most used B2B marketing tools where concepts are often complicated and benefit for a clear visual structure.

They are also excellent at fostering engagement. Infographics are liked and shared on social media x3 times more than other types of content. Speaking of engagement, people following text directions alongside illustrations perform with 300% more accuracy than with no pictures. Clearly, Ikea and Lego are onto something here.

Chatsworth employs our understanding and experience to deliver effective infographics which explain complex structures and ideas with clarity and context. Get in touch and we’ll help bring your narrative to life. 

Briefing: FX, the world’s largest and most liquid financial market

The foreign exchange (FX) industry is now emerging from a difficult period of scandal. Following the resulting increased scrutiny, which culminated in the creation of the FX Global Code, the global USD5 trillion-a-day market finds itself at a crossroads.

The Code’s efficacy is yet to be tested, but adoption continues and is strong. Why does any of this matter? Well for one, foreign exchange remains the world’s largest and most liquid market and plays a critical role in enabling international trade and investment.

Currencies provide a bell-weather for economic health, and short-term sentiment and speculation of course, but also a tool for hedging and the genuine flow of business and goods across borders.

Trust in its operation has to be restored, not just for investors but for the broader reputations of the institutions with FX operations.

A handful of banks, and non-bank trading firms – still mistakenly referred to as “the buy-side” – now dominate FX completely. This concentration was built over two decades and these global franchises have also been the first to adopt new technology and models, from prime brokerage to really maxing out on their API trading strategies.

A common muttering on FX street is that the banks have been distracted by regulation, paving the way for non-banks to steal clients from underneath the noses of the banks. Fair comment or sour grapes?

Meanwhile, in the post-trade space, there is a growing consensus for a shake-up of the current model, which is expensive and outdated. Demands for instant settlement continue to grow and more participants are backing DLT/blockchain-based platforms.

Many of the post-trade giants of today were established more than 20 years ago, as is their technology, so there is certainly scope for disruption. New entrants such as Cobalt are shaking up the post-trade FX landscape, while incumbents sensing their dominant position under threat, are eyeing the roll-out of DLT-based systems and – in some cases – investing in start-up systems.

 The move towards automation and straight-through processing began many years ago. Lower costs generally translate into lower barriers to entry, and we have already seen new entrant establish themselves as key market players. This will gather pace and will open the door to a new wave of market players to enter the FX market.

We would most certainly not bet against the blockchain, despite the inevitable kickback to the hype cycle. Cloud computing went through a hype cycle and subsequent trough of disillusionment before becoming a ubiquitous part of the IT landscape on what Gartner calls the slope of enlightenment.

The past is the key to the future of FX. The winners will continue to innovate using technology and will meet the challenges of adopting big data and analytics, distributed ledger technology, cloud computing, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) head on.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Chatsworth Christmas Charity Appeal

This year, Chatsworth is donating to Crisis to support work helping homeless people in dire need during the winter months. 

Crisis is a practical, front-line organisation providing accommodation,  food, haircuts, access to doctors and dentists, and advice on benefits, housing and finding jobs.

Please spare a few minutes to listen to and share the podcast with the brilliant Chris O’Dowd and Anne-Marie Duff.  

Written by award-winning screenwriter Regina Moriarty and directed by Virginia Gilbert, Baby It’s Cold Outside, is a thought-provoking journey, finding humour in the darkness whilst hitting home the impact of homelessness.

This season is a good time to reflect on all we have and those who may need our help.

Happy Christmas – wishing you and yours the very best for 2019.

Crisis public relations and issues management

When it gets stormy, Chatsworth’s special situations service helps protect and enhance your reputation, ensuring we tell your side of the story and mitigating potentially negative news which could impact your reputation. Our team has decades of experience advising organisations and individuals with intelligence and discretion. 

Working with full confidentiality, Chatsworth delivers strategic and tactical PR advice and support when our clients need it most. We give leaders informed advice whether they are facing a potential crisis or in the midst of an existing one, helping them to prepare for and manage the communications challenges which affect their organisation’s reputation, ability to operate or valuation. 

Chatsworth has extensive expertise in litigation support – managing the communications process during the course of any legal dispute or adjudicatory processing to protect the client’s reputation. We work closely with in-house and external counsel, leveraging our media relationships to counteract negative publicity, interpret often complex legal issues. 

From positive story formulation to rapid rebuttal and response. Chatsworth will move the compass needle your way.

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.