The future of trading is here, and it's mobile

IT&rsquo;S 8AM and I&rsquo;m standing on a busy train on my way to work with my eyes glued to my phone, unable to drag my attention away from the flickering numbers and charts. The London markets have just opened and the screen has suddenly burst in to life. <br /><br />I had placed a few trades ahead of the market open and I can&rsquo;t stop watching the profit and loss account, which is heart-stoppingly swinging rapidly between positive and negative territory. But as the market finds a direction, I add to my position and move further into the black. Thank goodness I didn&rsquo;t get stuck in a tunnel. <br /><br />The gizmo that I was so glued to was City Index&rsquo;s new iPhone application which, after a couple of days of trading, looks to me very much like the future of spread betting. One day, all traders will have one of these. For now, I&rsquo;ve got the very distinct feeling that the ability to trade on the go puts me in a massively advantageous position compared to those who have to stay glued to their computer screens. <br /><br />The app is a nifty little thing, a fully integrated platform that allows you to place trades and orders as well as monitor existing positions. It is a fully integrated platform, on which you can place trades and orders as well as monitor existing positions. Free to download, providing you have a City Index account, it is synched to your online account so that your positions are constantly up to date. So popular has the app proved among City Index account holders that there were 400 downloads in just the first 48 hours and nearly 4,000 since the app was launched on the 20 October. <br /><br />As of Friday, it was the most downloaded free financial application available on the iStore. City Index are hopeful that the number of downloads could exceed 10,000-15,000 before the end of the year. <br /><strong><br />WHENEVER, WHEREVER</strong><br />Joshua Raymond, market strategist at City Index, says: &ldquo;Giving spread betters the ability to trade whenever they want and wherever they are is completely where we feel the industry is going. No longer are you restricted to trading in front of the computer.&rdquo; <br /><br />It&rsquo;s hard not to agree. Clearly, this is the future of spread betting technology. For the private investor, there is nothing worse being out and about when market-moving events occur. When it comes to spread betting on the fast moving markets, without access to a computer, you can but watch the news, unable to adjust your open positions to the new information.<br /><br />While your stop losses should have been appropriately placed to ensure that you don&rsquo;t return to your computer screen to find thousands of pounds worth of losses racked up on your account, it is nonetheless frustrating if you missed opportunities to enter the markets or to add to your open positions, simply because you were away from your desk.<br /><br />City Index&rsquo;s offering has certainly upped the game on mobile phone dealing and puts the pressure on its competitors to offer something similar. IG Index does already offer a mobile dealing platform, which is available on any phone with web-browsing capability and has been optimised for the iPhone for some time. <br /><br />Where the IG mobile platform really outperforms the City Index app, though, is its charting facilities and full platform functionality. At the moment, City Trading lacks charts and this is perhaps its biggest flaw. But&nbsp; the company says that the app will be upgraded with further features including news flow and charting expected in the near future. <br /><br />IG Index&rsquo;s mobile phone platforms has also been experiencing a steady rise in popularity among clients, but David Jones, chief market strategist at IG, notes that &ldquo;the majority will use it more as a way of keeping abreast of their current positions as opposed to opening and closing positions, but this is obviously an option they have at their disposal&rdquo;.<br /><br />While both the IG Index and City Index mobile platforms are only available to existing customers, a demo or &ldquo;lite&rdquo; version is among the possibilities being considered for future releases of the City Trading app, says Raymond. <br /><br />Keeping abreast of the markets wherever you are has also fuelled the rise of other trading tools, which keep you informed by either text or email about your positions and movements in the market. If you only trade part-time, then you cannot spend all day watching charts for technical patterns and support and resistance lines.<br /><br />This is where new tools such as timetotrade can help you, as it gives private investors charting techniques that are often restricted to professionals. It allows you to set up alerts, which tell you when your chosen market hits a certain level that you had specified. <br /><br />For the more technical spread betters out there, you can also combine the trendline alerts with a variety of technical indicators to create complex alerts with multi-condition rules. It&rsquo;s pretty sophisticated stuff. Dary McGovern, managing director of timetotrade, says that, for example &ldquo;you can set up an alert to notify you when the price hits a trendline followed by the stochastic moving above 20 and a MACD crossover with a few clicks of the mouse.&rdquo;<br /><br />As there is no software to download, stock price and technical charts can be accessed from any computer or web-enabled device (including iPhone or Blackberry), so wherever you are, you can set up these alerts. The basic package is free and allows you to set up 10 multi-condition alerts active at any one time and receive them via email. The more advanced packages cost money &ndash; upwards from &pound;9.99 per month &ndash; but allow you more active alerts and to receive alerts by text message.&nbsp; <br /><br />All this might sound great, and no doubt it is, but remember that constant updates are not necessarily a boon, especially for those with a tendency to fiddle. Sometimes it&rsquo;s best just to leave your positions to do their thing. But at the end of the day, it&rsquo;s nice to have the option.