10.13.2014
By Terry Flanagan

Wall Street Firms Launch Communication Network

A group of Wall Street firms has launched a platform for financial-services professionals to communicate using compliant standards and end-to-end encryption.

The new platform will compete with Bloomberg LP, whose users-only chat function has helped its terminals attain a dominant position in the financial-data business.

Symphony Communication Services Holdings has been formed through a $66 million investment from a group of the institutions, among them Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNY Mellon, BlackRock, Citadel, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs.

“Fourteen leading financial institutions have come together to solve an important problem for them, a problem that happens day in and day out: How do they allow their brokers to communicate with each other inside and outside of their organization in a richer way than they can today with just email or instant messaging?” David Gurle, chief executive of Symphony, told Markets Media.

The core source code of the platform has been contributed to an open-source foundation. In 2015, the foundation will allow components of the platform’s software to be freely used via the use of an open-source licensing model.

“We want to provide services to everybody by inception,” said Gurle. “This is first and foremost a technology company, as opposed to being, for example, a trading venue or a regulated entity, so we are not going to do any of those applications in our system. We are going to be focusing on content, community and communication.”

The application contains “widgets,” Gurle said. One widget is a chat room, another widget is the data relevant to the deal to the context, another is filtered news, and another is instant messaging that enables communications between people inside and outside of the deal.

Separately, financial information services company Markit has launched software and services that enable banks and other financial institutions to host and manage instant message chat rooms.

The platform gives financial institutions direct access to the content in chat rooms they host, and control over information security. Chat rooms created using the software will be connected to Markit’s open Collaboration Services network and will be accessible to financial market professionals using a variety of messaging technologies, the company said.

“Use of chat rooms has been scrutinized by regulators and the industry, but banning chat is not the answer,” Andrew Eisen, managing director and head of collaboration services at Markit, said in a release. “Markit’s solution makes it possible to manage chat rooms across federated platforms in a compliant manner.”

Featured image via Attila Toro /Dollar Photo Club

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