03.28.2013
By Terry Flanagan

Trading Apps Descend on FX Market

As a 24-hour market, foreign exchange trading has attracted the attention of trading software developers intent on porting desktop trading applications to mobile devices and in general making FX trading easier for both retail and institutional customers.

Oanda, a market maker and broker in FX trading which focuses primarily on the retail segment, has seen the number of customers and percentage of overall trading volumes executed on mobile devices soar as it rolls out technology for performing the same functions available on desktop computers on handheld devices such as iPad, iPhone and Android.

“We have seen an increase in requests from customers to perform increasingly sophisticated tasks, such as technical analysis, since we launched our first versions of mobile apps,” said Trevor Young, senior director of product management at Oanda. “In the past three years, our clients have progressed from merely checking positions and prices with our mobile app to using it to plan and execute trades.”

Mobile devices already account for 30% of logins and 15% of trades for Oanda clients, a number that has risen rapidly since the company introduced its first mobile trading app in 2010.

“With this new version of our trading app, we’re providing our customers with what they want: a robust platform at their fingertips and a great trading experience,” Young said. “We’ve seen a strong increase in downloads and use of Oanda’s native mobile app in the last 12 to 18 months, and today’s product keeps our clients at the forefront of this industry trend.”

FX as an asset class is going through a transition from mostly voice-traded to electronic.

“Last year, although overall FX volume was down, the percentage of electronic FX volume was up,” said Alfred Eskandar, chief executive of trading system provider Portware.

Portware FX is a customizable FX trading platform that aggregates liquidity from all global providers, including banks, electronic communication networks (ECNs) and inter-dealer platforms. The trading technology streamlines complex workflows and gives traders maximum choice with respect to trading strategies and order routing destinations.

“For large institutions such as pension funds, not only do we connect to all FX ECNs but our analytics, ease of use and quality and reach of the product is unparalleled,” Eskandar said.

Clients can also take advantage of Portware FX’s cloud-based model, which offers fast deployment, ease of access to all liquidity providers and significantly reduced operational overhead, Eskandar said.

The latest version of Oanda’s fxTrade mobile app includes advanced charting functionality that allows users to overlay various technical indicators for enhanced price-data analysis, visibility into price action from a single screen and a user interface that allows easier chart navigation, one-handed chart manipulation and scrolling trade history.

“We decided to re-engineer and rethink the entire mobile trading app with a view to porting desktop trading applications to a smartphone form factor,” said Young at Oanda. “We spent a lot of time thinking about the user interface. Lots of people do trading during while commuting or waiting in line, so we allow sliding menus that will appear and are then sliced out of the way, when you rotate the device.”

Oanda has extended its MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform to support mobile applications for iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets.

MT4 is a massive code library and developer application programming interface that allows users to program trading instructions set to execute automatically, with no human intervention. Variables in the MT4 algorithms (branded ‘expert advisors’) may include timing, price or quantity of the order.

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