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Cobalt strengthens team as it moves ahead to re-engineer the FX market

Cobalt, the foreign exchange (FX) infrastructure based on shared ledger and high performance technology, has hired five experienced professionals to lead its drive to re-engineer the FX market.

Post-trade FX is currently riddled with complex legacy systems and manual processes, creating unnecessary cost and risk across the market. The new hires bring a wealth of FX experience to the company and will play an important role in the rollout of Cobalt’s shared infrastructure which optimises risk management and slashes cost by up to 80%.

Bob Linton, based in New York, has become head of connectivity and onboarding at Cobalt. He will be responsible for replacing old, legacy technology incumbent in many institutions’ post-trade FX operations with Cobalt’s low latency, high performance shared ledger technology. He joins following a 13-year stint at market infrastructure technology provider, Traiana. 

Dan Evans was appointed product analytics lead and is focused on product innovation and reporting as well as highlighting the hidden opportunities for financial institutions. Dan is experienced in analysing FX trading data both as a director of FX trading at UBS, where he spent seven years, and as the director of his own consultancy.

John Fitzgerald joins as information security manager. John has over 15 years in risk and security management and prior to joining Cobalt, he was the lead for information security at Rathbone Brothers Plc.

Nitin Talway has been appointed head of support. He has over 13 years’ experience in the FX industry having previously worked for institutions including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, RBS/Natwest Markets and Credit Suisse.

Kameldeep Bhachu is now a senior business analyst at Cobalt. He previously worked at Murex and in the FX and treasury divisions at Morgan Stanley, UBS and Royal Bank of Canada. He brings extensive front to back knowledge of the FX cash and derivatives business.

Darren Coote, managing director of Cobalt, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Bob, Dan, John, Nitin and Kameldeep to the rapidly expanding Cobalt team. They bring a breadth of FX experience across the interdealer and prime broker space and have an intimate knowledge of the competitive landscape as well as financial institutions’ systems. Each will play a key role in reengineering the FX market from the ground up, getting rid of legacy systems and replacing them with new technology which is more suitable for the low-latency FX market of today.”

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.

Cobalt appoints new global head of sales & business development

Cobalt, the foreign exchange (FX) post-trade processing network based on shared infrastructure and high performance technology, has appointed FX specialist Anoushka Rayner as global head of sales and business development.

Anoushka brings over 20 years of experience in the FX industry to Cobalt. She has held a number of high-profile roles, most recently as business manager and global FX sales specialist at Traiana. Prior to this she worked as sales director at smartTrade Technologies and as global head of FX option sales at FXCMPro, the institutional arm of Forex Capital Markets.

Anoushka will be responsible for managing Cobalt’s commercial relationships and will play a key role in scaling up the business as it gets ready for its launch later this year.

Darren Coote, Managing Director of Cobalt, commented: “We are very pleased to welcome Anoushka to our ranks as we work towards reengineering the largest and most liquid financial market in the world. She brings a wealth of experience and contacts to Cobalt and is a key part of our plans as we prepare to launch later this year.”

Anoushka Rayner said: “Current post-trade FX service providers and infrastructure are shackled by legacy technology and inefficient processes which are unfit for purpose. This increases costs for market participants and poses significant operational and systemic risk to the FX market.

“I’m excited to be working for Cobalt as I believe it poses the single biggest innovation to post-trade FX in the last 15 years and look forward to playing my part in creating a shared infrastructure which will benefit the entire market.”

Cobalt appoints Darren Coote as Managing Director

Cobalt, the foreign exchange (FX) post-trade processing network based on shared infrastructure and high-performance technology, has appointed FX industry veteran Darren Coote as managing director.

Darren has been working with Cobalt since the end of 2017 as a strategic advisor and will now take on responsibility for the day to day management of the company. This comes at a key time for Cobalt as the company launches and looks to significantly scale its business.

Darren brings over 25 years’ experience in FX to Cobalt, having held a number of high profile roles running global FX trading and e-FX businesses at UBS where he drove the business through significant industry and technology change. He has also worked for Lloyds, served on a number of FX boards and committees including the Bank of England’s FX Joint Standing Committee and EBS’s executive board prior to the company’s sale to ICAP in 2006.

Adrian Patten, Co-Founder, and Chairman of Cobalt, commented: “We are very pleased to welcome Darren to our fast-growing team. He brings invaluable expertise and market contacts. We are confident he is the right person to lead Cobalt as we prepare to go into full production later this year.”

Darren Coote said: “Having worked in FX for over 25 years, I have seen first-hand the negative impact that aging, inefficient legacy technology is having on market participants and their bottom line. As the industry gets increasingly competitive and margins shrink, it’s important for institutions to save money and mitigate risk wherever possible.

“Cobalt is a unique solution which solves an urgent need for participants by creating a shared FX post-trade back office utility, significantly reducing risk and cost by 80%. I’m excited to play a key role in Cobalt’s development as we prepare to go live this year and re-engineer the FX market from the ground up.”

This May, Cobalt secured a strategic investment from Singapore Exchange (SGX), which operates Asia’s largest, most diverse and fastest growing FX exchange.

Previse and Cobalt named amongst Top 101 Fintech Disruptors

BusinessCloud has revealed its list of the top 101 fintech disrupters in the UK, and it made for pleasant reading at Chatsworth Towers.

The award recognises companies that are disrupting the industry through technology – whether they are heavyweight incumbents to start-ups. BusinessCloud also canvassed the opinion of industry experts before they settled on the final line-up, and we’re delighted that two of our clients made the list.

One of those is Previse, a startup that applies machine learning technology to solve a global business problem – slow B2B payments. The London-based fintech enables buyers to have all their suppliers paid instantly, as soon as the buyer receives an invoice. It uses machine learning to root out the invoices which may not be paid, allowing a funder to pay the rest immediately.

Previse has made huge strides since its launch in 2016, recently raising £7 million in Series A funding. The startup has also received backing from leading business figures and top venture capital firms and has signed up seven large organisations. With strong plans for growth, the company is undoubtedly one of the hottest fintechs worth keeping an eye on over the next few years.

Another of Chatsworth’s clients named in the list is Cobalt, a foreign exchange (FX) post-trade processing network based on shared infrastructure and high-performance technology. Cobalt’s unique solution leverages highly optimised technology alongside an in-house immutability service based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) to deliver a shared back and middle office infrastructure that is scalable, secure and fast.

By creating a shared view of trade data, Cobalt frees up back and middle office resources from multiple layers of reconciliation; creating a ‘golden’ portfolio of FX transactions from which to provide multiple services.

In May, Cobalt secured a strategic investment from Singapore Exchange (SGX), which operates Asia’s largest, most diverse and fastest growing FX exchange.

It’s great to see startups such as Previse and Cobalt be recognized for shaking up the status quo in their respective industries.

As the original fintech PR company, we can say with confidence that there isn’t a more disruptive sector than fintech. It has finally come of age and made it into the US-run Merriam Webster online dictionary – perhaps fitting, considering the shared digital origins!

READ THE LIST IN FULL

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.

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