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Investment bank RBS Global Banking & Markets has been showing off a new version of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet app for registered users of its investment intelligence service, RBS Marketplace.
The RBS Marketplace app first launched back in April, in time for the PlayBook's US release, and will shortly be available for the first time in the UK when RIM's tablet hits Blighty's shops next week, on 16 June.
While RBS customers can access research articles on their smartphones - typically via email as PDFs - the company reckons tablets offer a better environment for reading long articles. "Some of the research articles are a couple of hundred pages long - you're not going to read that on your smartphone," said a company spokesman.
The RBS Marketplace app has been designed for RBS customers to get access to relevant research and strategy data when they are out of the office, according to Ron Karpovich, global head of fixed income, currencies and commodities product management, electronic markets at RBS GBM - pictured above-right demoing the app at a media briefing in London this week.
The company surveyed its clients at the end of last year to look at the ways they were consuming research. "There was a clear demand for mobile devices," said Karpovich.
RBS Marketplace isn't the first tablet app the investment bank has launched. It released an iPad app back in March this year, and is also eyeing up the Android platform for its next launch.
The company plans to consolidate its apps across the three platforms so there is a consistent user experience, it said.
"We're not taking everything we do on our desktop applications and porting them over to a smaller device that they can [use] anytime, anywhere," Karpovich said. "What we're looking at is, what kind of interaction does a user have with RBS when they're out of the office at a wholesale banking level?"
The updated RBS Marketplace app includes a new feature called Trends, pictured above. This feature depicts the popularity of individual research and strategy articles by displaying them in an infographic form. The more popular the article, the more space it takes up within the graphic.
The feature will give users the ability to scroll back through the past 24 hours or more and quickly get a handle on which articles might be worth reading based on their popularity with other RBS clients, said Karpovich: "The idea is to draw their attention to the things they need to know."
Future iterations of the Marketplace app might see a push-data functionality added, so that select information is actively pushed to app users, according to RBS.
RBS is also polling its customers on any future trading functionality for the app. "We're still discussing how we're going about a trading capability on this," Karpovich said. "We are canvassing our customers to see what they are interested in doing.
"One of the concerns we have about it is what our customers are going to be allowed to do out of office. There's a question of what you allow them to be able to trade when they're sitting at home. What do their security teams expect you to do?"
Here's a view of the first version of the app running on a PlayBook. The Trends feature will be accessible by clicking on the pie-chart icon at the top left.
The RBS app displays any new research articles from RBS' Marketplace service in the right-hand pane, based on the tablet user's asset class preferences. There's also an option to display articles based on when they were published - the last 12 hours, 24 hours, one week or two weeks.
The app user can view a colour-coded summary of the contents of each article, shown above in orange, by clicking on the icon displayed at its bottom right-hand corner. This also brings up the option of bookmarking that article for reading later.
Viewing the full article offers more options, including a 'favourite' function which will ensure similar articles are sent directly to the app feed in future.
The article view can also be expanded, or made full-screen.
Bookmarked articles live in the briefcase, pictured above.
Research asset class preferences are set here.