LeapRate Interview: Wassim Khateeb elaborates on Hello Markets’ future plans post-rebranding

The fiercely competitive binary options platform provision sector has been dominated by a few major firms, resulting in a very difficult entry proposition for new technology firms. The major providers have been at the forefront of the evolution of the entire industry sector during the past year, with developments including integrated social trading platforms, shared wallet solutions which make it easier for FX firms to be targeted as potential customers on a B2B basis, as well as forays into the gaming sector with land based terminals having been released from two providers.

Hello Binary has taken an evolutionary step which could be considered all-encompassing, having rebranded recently to Hello Markets, thus redesigning its entire business model away from pure binary options technology into the provision of full brokerage solutions with which white label partners can offer their clients mainstream electronically traded asset classes such as FX precious metals in a move toward becoming a comprehensive provider of all online trading services.

In order to detail the ethos behind the corporate direction which the company took, Wassim Khateeb, Managing Director of Hello Markets explained to LeapRate what lead to the firm’s rebranding, and its plans for the future.

When originally establishing Hello Binary, what did the company initially seek to achieve and how did it initially go about gaining market share?

Hello Markets (ex-Hello Binary) was established in 2010. However, we started as a broker and then became a technology provider. We were using a platform that was not adapted to our needs.
About a year and a half ago we launched as technology providers. As of today we have a portfolio of over 80 brands in Europe, Asia, Russia, Africa and we have quickly become one of the main actors providing the binary options platform. Since 2010, the company grew with an annual growth of 450% and active platforms on the European, Chinese, Arab and Russian markets.

Talk us through the ethos behind the rebranding of the company to Hello Markets. What new industry segments will be approached, and how does the company intend to compete in an increasingly well-represented retail FX sector?

Hello Binary’s international expansion has led the company to open offices in Cyprus and Hong Kong, as well as developing a new full control financial solution, Hello Markets. This strategic change is a direct result of the company’s multiple acquisitions over the past six months as part of its growth strategy.

With our presence in the Asian market, Hello Markets was interested to integrate a site group metal brokers. The objective being to evolve our activity on the continent by responding to their needs better.

These brokers are as follows:

The Golden grand group Www.svsga.com
The Financial service provider Gold investment Jinyu Www.hj9999.com
The Far East precious metal company Www.fe062.com
Asia Pacific focused company Www.cygse.com

Hello Markets has also developed a partnership with Trading Economics for providing better trading tools.

Hello Markets conducts its business activity across the entire market of online trading. We stand at present on the evolution of products. Our goal is innovation in matters of online trading and our vision is to be the best technology provider for online finance.

What technological, liquidity-related and broker solutions will be available to Hello Markets’ white label partners?

Hello Markets is launching an unprecedented upgrade that includes a realtime management interface which consolidates all financial products and services, optimises user control and boosts performance. This complete turnkey package will shape the success of future brokers with its flexibility and customised monitoring services. Hello Markets is committed to an online platform implementation lead-time of 3 weeks, ready for trade, and an exclusive partnership system.

This technological innovation, comprised of well designed and user-friendly modules, provides online finance professionals with a full 360ºview of their trading activities using White Label Hello Markets platforms.

Supplying Prime Brokerage solutions to partners has become a very cost-sensitive business. What is your opinion on how Prime Brokers and liquidity providers can ensure that their broker partners continue to provide good quality client referrals by giving a good commission structure and low spreads, yet retain a profitable cost model for the Prime Brokerage and the broker partners alike?

I think that finding a kind of compromise between maintaining an effective cost model for the broker and its partners and between giving the client satisfaction on the conditions of trading, can be solved using two things: Developing the personal relationship between the client and the broker and increasing the volume of trade in order to have a bigger base for monitoring the trades and their risk in a way that ensure both, the client satisfaction and the broker profitability.

As STP brokerage has become de rigeur in today’s FX market in contrast to the b book model of OTC binary options, many retail end users assume that all brokers which profess to have a non-dealing desk model are operating an A-Book only. With the ever-increasing demands from traders for raw spread, and many offers of 0.2 pips on EUR/USD, it is certain that B-booking is taking place. What do you consider to be the best practice in terms of offering A-book only, and ensuring that traders are aware that spreads will widen at certain critical times, as opposed to B-booking the trader to keep spreads at 0.2 pips?

I think it’s a decision that have to be offered to the end-user. The choice to take the risk of fluctuation of spread on the first hand or to deal with the broker as a counter partie of the trade on the other hand, is up to the trader and up to the risk he want to take and the relation he do have with his broker. On this topic I would say that the role of the broker is to communicate the right information to the end user to help him choosing the way that suits him more.

Do you consider that binary options platform provision is now an extremely crowded space, occupied by a few dominant companies, and that there is little room for new entrants, hence the diversification into FX?

The market of online trading is a market in constant development and improvement. This includes the field of online trading of binary options. Indeed, competition is fierce and it’s not that easy to penetrate this market because of the high mobility of this industry, the importance of the reputation, the networking and the needed experience. But in the same time I think that the fact that the market is kind of big and still expanding keeps a place for new entrants.

What is the best way to capitalize the infrastructure of a retail FX firm? Is it best to invest in on-site infrastructure and then take liquidity feeds only from a provider, or do you think it is better to take an entire solution from a technology firm and capitalize it monthly or on volume rather than having the in-house maintenance costs?

Because of the numerous aspects of launching such business I think choosing the simplicity is the right solution. By simplicity I mean choosing a partner that have the necessary experience, contacts and technology to deliver a turnkey solution that allows the broker to be concentrated on the core business which is Sales and Marketing.

In May this year, Hello Binary opened a representative office in Cyprus. Does Hello Markets view Cyprus as a region which is still able to bear significant fruit, or does the company set its sights on the Asia Pacific region?

I don’t think it’s one region or the other one, the plan is to expand simultaneously on few regions and market segments. We want to strenghten our strong position on the European market by being present in Cyprus and meanwhile we also want to expand our presence in Asia.

The client acquisition model between binary options firms and retail FX firms is somewhat different in that many retail FX firms rely on introducing brokers and partners to bring continuity of business. What is Hello Markets’ take on the best way to onboard clients, and what kind of partners will the firm look for?

The core business of Hello Markets is to provide technology and the support to use this technology to our client. I think the best client acquisition process depends on various aspects like the culture, the targeted market and the business model of the broker. What we try to do is to adapt our technology to the different models chosen by our clients.

What is Hello Markets’ plan for expansion of presence during the year ahead?

The new Hello Markets products ( a wide range of products including forex, binary options, meta derivatives, financial calendars, signal bots and social trading) will be available throughout 2015. They consist of a line of seven new products integrated into a single trading station. The idea is to consolidate our presence on the actual market segments and to expand to new ones using the complementarity of those new products and by identifying different synergies with other partners in the industry.

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