It’s been quite a while since one of the major players in the retail foreign exchange (FX) industry has announced something truly big. While it is true that last year Saxo Bank did introduce TradingFloor.com, a hybrid between a social trading environment, a web-TV and a huge room full of traders (just as the name implies), at the time not many grasped its importance.
Little did we know at the time, that the launch of the product is only one piece of the puzzle, which Saxo Bank has been building. This Monday, the company unveiled in Paris its new trading platform, named SaxoTraderGO. Your fellow Head of Retail FX and Editor of Finance Magnates was present at the launch event to ascertain all the details surrounding the new platform.
The rollout of the solution has only been initiated in France, subsequently becoming available soon to all clients of Saxo Bank in conjunction to its already established platform, SaxoTrader. Customers in the U.K. will gain access starting from the May 25, 2015, with a further gradual rollout across the globe.
As Saxo Bank’s CEO Lars-Seier Christiansen explained at the launch, the platform is a big step and initiative when compared to Saxo Bank’s existing solution – the new platform boasts a more intuitive user interface, multi-platform and multi-asset trading, a transition between pre-trade, trade and post-trade services and an Open API.
Yet this is not even the biggest news when it comes to Saxo’s new solution. From what was seen at the event, the Danish multi-asset brokerage is in the initial stages of building an entire ecosystem for its traders and white label clients.
Building an Infrastructure for 21st Century Banking
The legacy platform SaxoTrader has been adopted and used by a number of leading industry players with Saxo Bank’s white label solution on boarding a number of banking institutions worldwide. As the technological environment has been developing and evolving in recent years however, a call for change has been trumpeted and the bank realized that it needed to open up to new channels for would-be users and market participants that look to it as an industry leader.
The post-Lehman financial industry has been a field of relatively rapid change, particularly in the banking sector. However, far from all aspects of the business have been addressed. Some of these changes are taking ages to shift to a new operational model. Indeed, many major banks are transitioning from traditional to fully electronic dealing at a seemingly glacial page, with the process in its entirety still ongoing.
Dealing with all of the fixings fallout that has permeated the industry over the last couple years, along with the implementation of new compliance procedures, matching new capital requirements has left the core of this industry, which are the big banks paralyzed when it comes to new products. The banking experience has thus largely remained the same for clients interested in trading and investing on the markets.
In fact, the policies of monetary authorities globally have all but encouraged the banks to engage in more and more financial engineering, instead of focusing on a better experience for their clients. This is where Saxo Bank aims to come in.
The Danish bank wants to position itself as a mediator between the traditional financial institutions and the growing needs of their clients in the 21st century. Speaking to Finance Magnates’ reporters exclusively, the company’s CEO Lars-Seier Christiansen said that the company had been in talks with a number of large banks.
TradingFloor.com has been a very successful launch for Saxo Bank – not only has it managed to attract top tier traders into a single online forum, it also became a hub for new traders. According to online traffic research company SimilarWeb, there are currently over 1.5 million monthly visits to the website.
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Saxo Bank has managed to create a community and the name of the website stands for exactly what it has become. The step of making the site open to users who do not have an account with the Danish broker has been a key decision here.
SaxoTraderGO in a Nutshell
Now it’s time for the second major step in Saxo Bank’s strategic effort – to launch a new platform, SaxoTraderGO, which is in harmony with modern technologies and the comprehensive needs of the modern investor. TradingFloor.com is already integrated into it, making it convenient for traders who have Saxo Bank accounts to access a virtual trading floor, just like old school traders used to have.
SaxoTraderGO is building on the efforts of Saxo Bank to democratize trading. The legacy solution SaxoTrader was launched back in 1998 and since then a lot has changed. For once, at the time there was no similar solutions on the market to speak of. The co-founders and co-CEO’s of Saxo Bank, Lars-Seier Christiansen and Kim Fournais, have been on their own when it comes to designing an adequate solution for trading the foreign exchange market.
This has been changed materially with SaxoTraderGO – the platform has been designed with a lot of user feedback and with traders actively incorporating their views on the usability of the solution. Saxo Bank wants to deliver an entrepreneurial product to the market rather than a traditional banking product.
We are yet to see the full force of SaxoTraderGO first hand, with only limited availability at the launch event. That said, a product review on Finance Magnates is coming up shortly with the list of new features of the platform being vast.
Full transition between mobile and desktop, trading from the charts, an upgraded charting package which is HTML5-based on the web and native on mobile, instant push notifications and a seamless user experience have all been mentioned at the presentation. From what we have seen, the platform looks promising, though no conclusions will be drawn before a period of first hand experience.
Completing the Puzzle with an Open API
Starting with TradingFloor.com, and moving through SaxoTraderGO, we are reaching the third piece of the strategic effort by Saxo Bank to add a new layer into its existing business. The culmination is an Open API which will be available to both white labels and developers to build on top of the new platform of the Danish brokerage.
This point will bring the long needed diversification for the variety of white labels of the same services provider. Saxo Bank’s white labels are already building their own ideas into the framework before the Open API is officially launched later this year.
Imagine an algorithmic trading focused broker, which aims to deliver very sophisticated tools to its clients and wants to provide them exclusively. Next, imagine a major bank catering to a growing class of investors who are more and more interested to make their own judgement, rather than listen to their financial advisors…
The list only begins here and the possibilities provided by a full ecosystem such as what Saxo Bank is building may expand into a fully blown Saxo App Store some day.
Developers will also have the ability to integrate with certain white labels on an exclusive basis, or provide their own solutions to a vast marketplace, which are the end users of the experience. It is still too early to talk about what will be achieved with this new effort by Saxo Bank, however the fundamentals are in place to talk about what can be achieved.
Will Saxo Bank be able to position itself as a bridge to transforming the financial industry? – We clearly don’t know the answer to this question just yet. The effort in itself deserves some praise now, and surely along the way it will also attract some or even a lot of criticism. The key for Saxo Bank’s success in this effort is in listening to that criticism and adjusting quickly enough to adapt to a market that continues changing at a lightning pace.