The following is a guest post courtesy of Jon Hodgson, Global Account Director at mobile apps acceleration solutions provider Neumob. Jon works closely with large finance and FTSE100 organisations and has nearly a decade’s worth of enterprise sales experience across EMEA, the US and Asia. Prior to joining Neumob, Jon was a top European sales rep at Akamai, CDNetworks and 1E.
In this article, Jon dives into the rapid growth of mobile Forex trading, highlighting the growing burden for app developers to maintain high availability and low latency to prevent dropped trades. Jon provides insight on how app developers can help improve app/trading speeds across any network around the world to ensure the best trading experience for their users.
I recently saw a statistic that really changed the image in my head of financial and forex traders working from classic trading stations with multiple screens on a busy trading floor. It was when Peter Cruddas from CMC Markets said that the value of trades executed on mobile devices on his platform had reached nearly 50%, proving that the combination of the smartphone explosion and our innate desire to make money wherever we’re standing has been simply irresistible to traders.
This new truism has been borne out by my own experiences at Neumob, a mobile app acceleration solution provider that works closely with Forex apps to ensure high availability and low latency. App owners and developers in the UK, Israel, Cyprus and elsewhere within this dynamic ecosystem are increasingly alarmed by the immense dependence by Forex traders on the whims and vagaries of the mobile networks on which they’re trading. This is especially true in China and other Asian markets, which are easily the fastest-growing markets for currency trades – and where, alas, trades are routinely timing out and are being dropped due to swollen apps loaded with third-party calls, and mobile networks that are not up to the task of facilitating lightning-fast transactions.
Forex is the largest trading asset class in the world, with an average daily turnover that exceeds $4 trillion, and yet the infrastructure to support it often feels stuck in the legacy desktop era of the 1990s and 2000s. CDNs (content delivery networks), which were deployed to great effect decades ago to help speed up websites, continue to quietly plod along as the lazy, “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”-like infrastructure choice for mobile content providers – even in this remarkable era nearly entirely defined by smartphones and, more importantly, by apps. In fact, 90% of all mobile usage happens within apps, with the mere remaining 10% within mobile browsers, and yet CDNs can’t touch this app traffic – hence the problems faced by Forex apps the world over as they struggle with lost trades and highly frustrated users.
Financial trading and Forex companies already lose millions of dollars per day due to failed or dropped trades during times of currency fluctuations. Each trader is competing with many other traders for the most advantageous pricing during a time when available liquidity is quickly evaporating in fast, directional moves. Even milliseconds count. Michael Ourabah, CEO of BSO Network Solutions, says of latency, “There are very few comparative sectors where one millisecond can have such a profound effect on profitability. Latency can define a firm’s success or failure.”
With up to 50% of trades for some apps now coming from Asia, where the problems driven by 2G, 3G and newer 4G networks are most acute, apps that cannot provide high performance, availability and trading convenience under all conditions are being angrily deleted by traders. They’re often all too ready to leave a 1-star review and a pithy comment about poor performance in the App Store or in Google Play to boot. As a result, financial trading companies with fast apps have a distinct monetary and competitive advantage over those that don’t.
I believe that there are 3 magic letters that will help give financial and forex traders the on-the-go confidence to trade anywhere and everywhere they roam, whether it’s outside a restaurant in Shanghai or in the bustling heart of the City of London: S-D-K. Yes, virtually all apps, from games to travel to Forex apps, have numerous and very necessary third-party SDKs (software development kits) within them. The average app now has 16.4 embedded SDKs, with some having over 40. They’re what serve up the ads; haul in the images and video content; supply the crash analytics and marketing tools to the app owners and developers; and so on.
While they increase the “burden” or “weight” of the app on the mobile network, and thus help contribute to the problem we’re discussing, they can also coexist with infrastructure SDKs that help speed up load times and in-app performance. Much as CDNs sped up websites in the 90s, mobile app owners can now readily add an SDK to help their app’s “function” interact beautifully with all those other SDKs that contribute to their app’s unique “fashion” – and dramatically speed up load times and in-app responses in the process.
I can tell you from the discussions I’ve been having with brokers and traders of late, they’re nervously eyeing this surge in transaction traffic from Asia and the inherent unreliability of their own mobile apps in those markets. They see the rapid shift from desktop to mobile, from desk-bound to freely roaming, and wonder if the back-end technical infrastructure that helped make this industry what it is has actually kept up with the seismic cultural and even global changes that are happening outside of it.
Thankfully that same SDK revolution that’s helped to bloat apps while making them so incredibly powerful is the same revolution that’s poised to accelerate their performance as well – and not a moment too soon for clock-watching financial and forex traders who have everything to win and much to lose.