Financial traders go IP

Net telephony has proven its worth among financial traders, whose livelihood hinges on real-time communication.

SINGAPORE--While some businesses ponder over the move to Internet Protocol (IP) in communications, the technology has already benefited financial traders for the last five years.

Michael Speranza, vice president of product management at U.S. communications equipment maker IPC, said IP has already empowered financial firms with mobility and business continuity. The executive was in town Monday for the launch of Max, IPC's IP-based trading desktop for financial traders. According Stephan Phillips, managing director of IPC Asia-Pacific, the company was the first in the world to deliver IP-based trading desktops in 2001, the precursor to Max.

A trading desktop consists essentially of a phone with add-on units, speakers and direct-dial buttons. Also known as a turret, it allows traders to speak to multiple clients concurrently, and view live video feeds from financial news broadcasters. It is a vital tool that enables them to make quick decisions on trading floors around the world.

Speranza said that IP technology gives financial traders "the ability to move from an office in Tokyo to Singapore or Hong Kong, and seamlessly access their resources, independent of where they are".

Business continuity, he added, can also be facilitated with the move to IP.

"The ability to recover from any form of interruption, such as a typhoon, is being enforced by regulatory bodies," Speranza said. Financial firms thus need to redeploy their traders should disasters occur, he added.

IP is "wholly suited" for that purpose, he said, adding that 38 percent of its 105,000 trading desktops deployed worldwide are IP-based.

IP communications, Speranza said, also allows for "failover", where traffic in the form of IP packets can easily be redirected elsewhere should any part of the communication network fails.

Companies with existing business applications such as customer relationship management, can integrate those with their trading desktops through IP technology. For instance, when a trader receives a phone call from a client, he can view data about that client simultaneously on a PC.

IPC counts the New York Stock Exchange, Barclays, Merrill Lynch and ING as users of its trading desktops, and has a 50 percent global market share in trading desktops, according to its own estimates and data from market research company Kimsey Consulting.

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