Ask anyone in the finance arena about up-to-date financial information and they will almost certainly say Reuters and Bloomberg. That perception could soon be about to shift, with the launch last month of a mobile information service from niche player Blue Systems.
The company's CEO Sulim Malook met with silicon.com at the Capital Club in the heart of the City of London to explain how a dedicated mobile service giving global financial information could shake up the established information players and help to usher in the next stage in financial markets.
Malook spent 14 years as a market maker on the floor of the London International Financial Futures Exchange (Liffe) before using that knowledge to launch a desktop-based financial information service that he knew his peers would find useful in 2002. Three years ago, he conceived the new service, Blue Mobile. But it's only now, when mobile broadband is starting to become widely available, that the market was ready.
This service delivers primarily pricing information as it happens to a range of smart phone devices. The UI can be tailored to the user's specific needs and the package has a baseline cost of $19.95 per month.
Malook has the confident and straightforward manner that comes with one and a half decades of open outcry trading. He's going to need it to take on the mighty financial institutions of Reuters and Bloomberg. Undaunted, Malook believes the gap the big boys have not yet plugged is an information service that covers the world's exchanges, delivered over a mobile device at a compelling price point.
He said: "Real-time information is what everyone is after but it always comes at a premium price and it's basically that which we are challenging. Global content at an affordable price."
Blue Mobile has a solid back office. Most of the exchange information is provided by Interactive Data Corporation (IDC) and Blue Systems own data centre—based on an HP blade server architecture—is housed in the same building as IDC's own, to minimise the latency of the data traffic. The service is optimised for Windows Mobile, Java and Symbian, so it is compatible with more than 150 handsets. The real ace in the hole though is a deal with BlackBerry to co-market the service to brokers and banks.
Blue Mobile's real focus is not so much established financial hubs like the city of London but the emerging investment centres in China and India. It is reacting to the increasingly interconnected financial landscape. This is why Malook thinks a service over mobile phones running 3G, which for much of the world is the only computing device available, is the way to go.
He said: "Markets are more co-related than they've ever been. Chinese markets now affect a lot of markets in the West. The sub-prime crisis has shown how global markets have become. The oil price is affecting everyone now, the weak dollar is affecting everyone now. So, anyone making an investment, even if it's on a domestic level, that decision to buy or sell is going to be affected by something that doesn't even trade or isn't even produced in their country."
However, the service is very much focused on delivering quick and dirty data. Malook says it concentrates on the 30 per cent of financial data being produced that is used by 90 per cent of the financial community. It won't appeal to everyone.
Malook said: "Reuters and Bloomberg are fantastic for analysts, fantastic for economists, for anyone that analyses in-depth financial data. We're looking at it from the perspective of those people that actually trade because all they really want to know first and foremost is the price."
It doesn't take long in Malook's company to see that the world is his oyster but for now he is concentrating on consolidating the coverage he already controls.
He said: "We do have some plans for the emerging markets. I'm talking about the Vietnams, Nigerias, Tanzanias and Venezuelas. But we've already got 150-plus different exchanges on our mobile service across 129 countries. Therefore we want to get this product out to 129 countries. I think that's as much as we are going to be focusing on in the next 24 months."