Mobile trading technology is on the move

Philip Salter
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WITH the vast majority of trading now taking place online, the computer revolution had replaced the phone as the primary medium for trading. But the current transformation is towards trading on the move, as traders demand 24/7 access through internet-enabled mobile devices – including their phones. It is an exciting time for consumers, with stiff competition driving innovative technology.

Roger Hambury of City Index states: “Three years ago, mobile dealing was only a small part of our business; as little as 2 per cent of all volumes were being traded through a mobile device.” He goes on: “Today, almost one in four trades are executed via our mobile platforms, whilst one in three clients have actively used their mobiles to trade.” Providers need to offer mobile trading if they are not to be left behind; those currently without a mobile offering are busy working on getting them to market.

Angus Campbell of London Capital Group says: “Mobile devices are getting quicker and smaller year by year and so we expect them to play an increasingly important role in the way people trade.” He adds: “As more mobile devices come onto the market, more and more people will buy smart phones and pads, thus demanding applications that will give them fast and reliable access to their trading accounts.” Craig Inglis of CMC Markets says more people are now opening accounts on mobile accounts than from their PC, while David Jones of IG – which will imminently offer an app upgrade allowing traders to “view market depth on individual shares” – believes that given the volatility seen over the last couple of years, mobile access is increasingly necessary. Both Jones and Inglis cite the Japanese earthquake, as an occasion when having access to mobile trading proved useful. Speed is key, with Shai Heffetz of InterTrader working from the premise that “time is money.”

Despite the accelerating demand over the last two years, Jones cannot foresee mobile trading overtaking PC based trading, principally because charting and other tools don’t work as well on smaller devices. Apart from the size of the screen – which is seen by many as the key limitation for mobile devices – another technical drawback can be that mobile reception on occasion results in frustration for traders. A number of providers suggest that they get phone calls from traders on trains shooting in and out tunnels, unsure if their trade went through or not.

Social networking is seen by many providers as another essential part of their business strategy. A quick search on Twitter reveals that all the major providers have a corporate presence – as do most of their experts. CMC Markets will soon be releasing a trading application with the aim of building trading communities as a forum to discuss trading strategies: “a Facebook for traders.” Inglis sees this as particularly useful for new traders, who will be able to plug into a community of traders.

This dynamic competition is compelling. The growing distinction in products and services provided by the intersection of technology and trading is good for providers and will grant customers more choice, which can only be a good thing.