Online stock trading via PDA

Retail investors may soon have the option of trading from their personal digital assistants (PDAs) in Singapore.

SINGAPORE--Local stock investors are becoming quite spoilt for choice when it comes to online trading.

Not only can they trade from their PCs, mobile phones and proprietary handheld devices now in the market, retail investors may soon have the option of trading from their personal digital assistants (PDAs), too.

Enter eBridge, the Internet unit of Bridge Information Systems, and Hong Kong-based wireless infrastructure and application developer SinoSky Technology Development Ltd.

Both companies are now marketing what they claim to be Asia's first streaming market data and stock trading platform for PDAs.

While there are similar services from online brokers in Hong Kong, including, Quamnet and Celestial Asia Securities Holdings, these require users to constantly refresh the screen.

"Contrary to other wireless financial services in the market that require users to activate the access of static and real-time market data, SinoSky's new streaming wireless service (which runs on a packet-based network) delivers data that is automatically and continuously updated," the companies said in a statement.

"Additionally, users are only charged for the data traffic costs rather than connection duration costs."

The new 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) service is said to combine eBridge's Bridge Internet Toolkit (which supplies the market information) with SinoSky's real-time Wireless Interactive Streaming Technology and SkyStream application.

It can also be integrated into customers' existing infrastructure and stock trading engines, the companies said.

Target customers for the wireless streaming investment service include banks, financial institutions and stockbrokers in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and China.

"Singapore will be our most important market," said SinoSky managing director Sophia Shaw in an interview, pointing to the Republic's relatively high PDA penetration and lower stock exchange charges for price data.

She declined to give revenue estimates, but noted that the company has committed the last 18 months of resources into the project.

Except for Hong Kong, however, discussions are currently only at "initial stages". That said, Shaw noted that "our time to market can be under four weeks".

The service was first rolled out for KGI Asia Ltd, a financial services provider in Hong Kong, last month; it allows customers to access and trade on KGI's Web site via their PDAs.

It's currently based on Microsoft's Pocket PC platform, and the companies expect the service to available to Palm users by August.

Overall, "we expect about 10 percent to 20 percent of online traders to use both wireless and PC-based trading devices," said eBridge vice president, sales & marketing for Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) Alfred Lee.

While the contract is not exclusive between the two parties, Lee stressed that "we're working on a close goodwill basis...and revenues will be shared."

According to Shaw, income would come from subscription to the service (in licensing fees based on user numbers) as well as from related consultation and implementation services.

On whether the consolidation in the industry would have an impact on the companies' efforts, Lee said: "We'll be focusing on the major players, so despite the consolidation, the number of (end user) customers should remain the same."