Reuters has today launched its own instant messaging service, aimed at banks and financial institutions worldwide.
Developed in association with Microsoft, Reuters Messaging offers a secure IM service to the hundreds of thousands of bankers, traders and analysts around the world.
So far almost 1,100 companies have signed up, giving Reuters 20,000 users in total. The companies include Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, JP Morgan Chase and UBS Warburg. Reuters Messaging enables staff within an organisation, often spread over multiple locations, to communicate in real time.
In order to appeal to banks Reuters said it was imperative to ensure the service was completely secure. One of the major concerns regarding consumer instant messaging services -- such as AOL, MSN and Yahoo! -- has been security, making it something banks would traditionally have steered clear of using.
Tom Glocer, chief executive of Reuters, said: "Banks don't let people onto their networks idly. We have taken a service intended for public use and we have brought it behind the firewalls of banks worldwide."
Speaking at the London launch of the service, Glocer said the need for IM within banks and other institutions, where time is of the essence, is clear to see.
"Instant messaging is fast and people need to respond in real time. Email is still too slow if you want instant interaction between people," said Glocer. He pointed to the fact that emails often go unanswered, and the sender can't know for sure if somebody is sat at their desk when it arrives. Reuters Messaging allows the user to see if people are at their desks and actively monitoring their IM before trying to contact them.
As well as speed and security, a third factor which Reuters had to consider is the weighty issue of compliance. Unlike consumer IM, Reuters had to ensure its messaging software could log all conversations, and create an effective searchable database in accordance with the dual demands of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) in the US and the FSA (Financial Services Authority) in the UK.
The browser-based interface can also incorporate other windows and runs on Microsoft's Windows operating systems. This means users can have their Outlook inbox open within the interface as well as other information vital to their jobs such as stock information. Similarly users can paste stock information, quotes and charts into messages.