Vendors showcase custom-built solutions

Technology vendors Reuters, Cognotec and Fairex, a Singapore-based firm that hosts a currency exchange, all expounded that theme at the congress, held in Kuala Lumpur between October 31 and November 2.

"We’re just trying to drill a bit further down," explained Singapore-based Mark Bishop, head of commercial policy and marketing for Asia at Reuters, which underlined its tailored solutions theme by offering delegates bespoke tailored shirts at its stand. ‘s about asking our customers: ‘What are you trying to achieve? What are your business priorities? Sometimes it can just mean understanding their workflow," said Bishop.

"The idea of customised solutions is key," agreed London-based Debbie Fuller, director of global business development at FX vendor Cognotec, which has recently altered its business plan towards the provision of bespoke technology for banks. "It’s very important for the banks because everyone wants to be unique." In addition, "banks are reluctant to build their own solutions. Instead, they’re buying in components," said Fuller.

The trend is being driven by the natural evolution of the e-FX technology industry, as banks are now adding bolt-on modules to original systems, or replacing them with second-generation technology. Cost-cutting has limited many banks’ development budgets, so outside vendors are increasingly being asked to provide systems tailored to a bank’s individual needs.

"The timing of the congress is perfect for us to showcase our innovations while demonstrating sensitivity to prevailing budget constraints impacting the market," said Reid Warren, director of Treasury Services, Asia for Reuters in Hong Kong.

The customised solutions trend is even more relevant to banks in Asia because of the diversity of the range of markets in the region, said some vendors.

"In Asia it’s very important to be customisable," said Wing Wah Loh, chief executive officer of Fairex in Singapore. The way firms do their trade management is different across regions, from Taiwan to Japan and Hong Kong, he said. "Customer requirements are not generic. One of our strengths is supplying the customisation," said Loh.

In addition, said Venkat Ramani, Bangkok-based head of consultative accounts and senior company officer for Reuters, South-east Asia: "After the Asian financial crises, our clients are finding it difficult to find new customers. The only way is to do something unique."

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