10.07.2013
By Terry Flanagan

Eight Banks Join Markit Network

Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse are among eight banks that are connecting to a messaging platform from Markit that the company says allows financial firms to communicate across different systems for the first time.

“Communication between market participants has been hampered by the lack of system interoperability,” Markit said in a release. “The new network removes barriers to industry communication by allowing messaging platforms, critical to price discovery and pre- and post-trade operations, to connect to each other.”

Messaging between financial institutions has traditionally been dominated by Bloomberg, but this is restricted to users with a Bloomberg terminal. Bloomberg had approximately 315,000 users for its messaging service who exchange about 20 million messages per day, according to online news provider Quartz.

Markit Collaboration Services allows users across a number of different systems, such as Thomson Reuters Eikon Messenger, Microsoft Lync and Cisco Jabber, to see availability, send instant messages, use video and chat rooms, and exchange documents, according to Markit.

“The potential for our network is huge, as we are going after the whole market,” Brad Levy, managing director at Markit, told Markets Media. “With Bloomberg you need a terminal to be part of their network, but there are millions of other users who are not served” by such closed communications systems.

Peter Moss, managing director of trading at Thomson Reuters, told Markets Media: “Our clients have been telling us for a long time that they need instant messaging tools that speak to each other; they don’t want their activity locked into a single provider. Working together with Markit and the banks, we are now seeing the industry coming together to drive change.”

Other banks who have joined the new Markit network are Barclays, Citi, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Thomson Reuters Eikon Messenger, which is connected to other messaging platforms such as AOL and Yahoo! and has more than 200,000 financial professional users worldwide, has also been connected to the new network.

“There are a large number behind them including other banks, buy-side firms and vendors,” Levy said. “Once we reach critical mass it can take off fairly quickly.”

Even Bloomberg can join the new platform, provided that it meets the collaboration requirements, according to Levy. He declined to comment on volumes on the new Markit platform.

“Most people are drowning in e-mail and using it as their single communication tool, even though it may not be fit for that purpose,” Levy said.

The inclusive premise of Markit’s platform works, according to Jim Toffey, head of e-markets at GFI Group. “We work with dozens of dealers and today we rely on multiple systems to communicate,” Toffey said in the Markit release. “The ability to use one platform to reach many customers is extremely valuable. We also need to verify that we are working with authorised representatives at our customers and having access to a single, global directory that is validated by firms on the network is a major advance for our business.”

Markit does not store the content of any communications, which are also are encrypted. The network is supported by the Vantage governance platform of Actiance, which ensures that all of the communications data is integrated into the systems that financial firms have already built to meet requirements from regulators for retaining messages.

“The new platform does not require a big sell,” Levy added. “For most people it will just involve accepting an invitation to connect.”

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