OpenFin Looks To Conquer Desktops

Shanny Basar

Mazy Dar, chief executive and and cofounder of OpenFin, has aims for every application to run on the operating system for financial desktops as the firm expands with a senior hire in Europe.

OpenFin provides the operating layer for desktops in the financial industry, similar to the Android or iOS operating platform for mobile phones. Dar told Markets Media: “There is potential for every desktop application to run on OpenFin, which aims to become the de facto standard for financial desktops.”

He added that using OpenFin allows firms to instantly update applications on their  desktops, to use a secure environment and increase productivity through all the applications working together. The technology supporting OpenFin is Google’s Chromium engine that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Open Fin has had a small team in Europe since 2012 but is expanding in the region following the closing a $15m funding round at the start of this year.

The firm has hired Adam Toms, former chief executive of broker Instinet Europe, as chief executive of Europe.  Prior to Instinet, Toms was co-global head of electronic trading at Nomura, having joined as part of the Japanese bank’s acquisition of Lehman Brothers. In addition Espen Overbye has joined as the new chief technology officer for Europe. Overbye was formerly CTO at inFront, and previously head of application development, C&E at Thomson Reuters.

Adam Toms, OpenFin

Toms told Markets Media: “We are scaling up in Europe as half of OpenFin’s business comes from the region. There are so many different use cases and OpenFin provides a facelift for the user interface, as it becomes more like using an iPad.”

Some firms have been using OpenFin just to host one application while others are looking to use the operating system across their whole corporate and investment bank.

Toms gave the example of REDI Technologies, the execution management system, using OpenFin for the redesign last year of its new latest trading platform, before REDI was acquired by Thomson Reuters this year.

Mark Etherington, chief technology officer at REDI, said in a statement at the time : “A decade ago, the idea that you could natively integrate Web-based applications from multiple providers within a legacy environment in way that is completely transparent to the user was unthinkable, and yet that exactly is what OpenFin is allowing us to do.”

In April this year Algomi, the bond information network, announced a partnership with OpenFin.

Usman Khan, chief technology officer at Algomi, said in a statement at the time: “Technology in bond markets is changing faster than ever before and increasingly requires rapid and scalable software deployment across desktop applications. We are now entering a world in which capital markets technology providers can roll out software updates as frequently as technology companies update apps on smartphones.”

Stu Taylor told Markets Media at the time: “It will allow inter-app communication on the desktop if they have permission to talk to Algomi.”

Taylor continued that OpenFin gave Algomi access to a standardized desktop environment in banks to deploy more easily.

For example, Algomi acquired AllianceBernstein’s Automated Liquidity Filtering & Analytics in May this year to provide an aggregated picture of bond liquidity signals across multiple electronic venues, message platforms and direct dealer inventories. Algomi ALFA has been delivered this month and some clients started using it about two weeks ago.

In May this year OpenFin launched Hadouken IO, an open source project via GitHub, the hub for global developers. Firms who have announced they will be contributing to the open source project include Microsoft, NodeSource, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and NEX Group. Building apps on OpenFin gives developers a much faster time to market, while financial firms do not have to worry about security and interoperability.

Mazy Dar, OpenFin

OpenFin is currently used for applications licensed across more than 125,000 desktops used in over 400 major banks and buyside firms. Participants in the last funding round included J.P. Morgan, NEX Group’s fintech investment business Euclid Opportunities as well as Bain Capital Ventures, DRW Venture Capital, Nyca Partners, Pivot Investment Partners and other angels and financial industry executives who participated in previous rounds.

Dar added that Open Fin is used by 12 of the top 15 tier 1 banks, large buyside firms all the inter-dealer brokers and has been used to support trading platforms such as Trumid and Neptune in the fixed income space.

He added: “We are still in the early part of journey of new business models and trading platforms being developed.”

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