The first day of iFX EXPO Asia this year was jam-packed with attendees, networking and, most importantly, insight.
As this was the first large conference since the Swiss Black Swan, the subject was, without doubt, touched upon by many, from official speakers and top executives to serious traders who came to meet their providers.
Black Thursday was also on the minds of attendees. Besides negotiating business deals, the main two topics of discussion were: how the industry is moving forward following the EUR/CHF meltdown (that left some brokers with losses but strengthened others), and the prospects for increased volatility pushing trading volumes higher in 2015.
The EXPO also provided many practical and critical lessons on the Asian financial markets with two panels and two keynote speeches. Immediately after the traditional Chinese auspicious dragon dance, the first panel of the event, discussing the role of bitcoin and digital currencies in Asia, began.
Reaching the “Unbanked”
Young and successful FinTech entrepreneurs presented their insights about how bitcoin is integrating into the Asian financial landscape as well as its adaptation by traders and brokers. Among the most relevant subjects for the industry was the subject of business opportunities in Asian developing markets, currently outside the global financial markets.
These so called “unbanked” cannot pay with credit card or wire by bank but have mobile phones in high proportions that can serve as bitcoin wallets. This topic naturally included the available risk management options for brokers worried about exposure to the BTC exchange rate when accepting bitcoin.
The first speech of the day was given by the VP of sales at SafeCharge, who explained the payment funnel for forex traders to an excited audience, and how brokers can perfect it to prevent problems and reduce deposit decline rates. We learned about the different methods banks use to verify deposits and what differences in implementation exist between different regions of the world. He also explained the importance of localization of the payment process in terms of language, payment options and more.
The second panel of the day focused on the best client acquisition tactics for Asia, a matter at the heart of the industry these past few years. A group of top Western service providers for forex and binary options brokers presented their practical advice based on experience working in the region.
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We learned the critical importance of a local presence in Asia for B2B relationships and between forex brokers and forex traders (especially with high-net worth individuals). We also learned how this contrasts with retail binary options that can rely more on online and remote communications. The panel also discussed the evolving regulations for brokers in Australia and New Zealand and the best locations that a firm needs to get licensed in in order to target Asian clients.
The last speech was given by two representatives of the dominant search engine in China, Baidu. We learned how to use online advertising to penetrate the Chinese market with very specific and detailed analyses of the current competitive landscape on Baidu’s advertising networks.
For example, as the cost for an ad for the search term “forex” is very expensive, brokers were advised to try and target customers using search terms for car models and games, as the Baidu analysis showed the top demographic in China searching for forex-trade terms as being 20-39 year old males. This provides a more cost effective avenue for reaching them.
The first day of 2015’s expo was a success, raising the bar beyond what everyone thought possible. Last night there were people lining up around the corner for pre-registration and their first networking opportunity over drinks (at Frites Belgium on Tap). Today that excitement carried over and was even amplified.
The number of registered attendees has more than doubled since last year’s event in Macau, surpassing 3,000, with most of the new attendees hailing from the Asian market.
The move to Hong Kong proved very popular as a great deal of participants said they found the financial hub to be a perfect location for a meeting of East and West.
The crowed seemed very diverse with firms coming from Malaysia, India, Japan, China, Singapore, Australia, Europe and beyond. From prospective Chinese introducing brokers (IBs) to major global liquidity providers, everyone was here.
The hall was packed full and the audience joined the discussions with smart questions, for instance, on the emergence of bitcoin futures and derivatives and their importance for traders and brokers.
The doors were closed at 18:00 Hong Kong time and people were left with a feeling of accomplishment and anticipation for the second day. Now everyone is gathering their strength after such an eventful day, preparing to blow off some steam while networking at the evening party (at the famous DRAGON-I night club). Tomorrow is promising to be just as fruitful and successful.