Asia keener to adopt mobile FX trading – BidFX

Fintech firm updates mobile app to offer more features; security concerns represent major development challenges

Asia mobile business trading - Getty - web.jpg
On the move: BidFX Mobile Trader is a supplementary product to the BidFX desktop EMS

Foreign exchange traders in Asia are keener to adopt mobile trading, while traders worldwide are beginning to tap into round-the-clock trading, says fintech firm BidFX.

The execution-management system (EMS) provider launched its mobile application, BidFX Mobile Trader, in November 2019, and is set to release an updated version this month. BidFX Mobile Trader serves as a supplementary product to the BidFX desktop EMS.

“The app offers a level of mobility that is not possible with a desktop EMS. Traders can manage their FX risk on the move and from any location worldwide,” says Paul Sweeny, chief technology officer at BidFX. “Take-up is particularly strong in Asia, where traders often work very late in order to monitor and react to news events coming out of America.”

The second release in February expands FX trading functionality for spot, forwards and non-deliverable forwards.

BidFX decided to build a mobile version of its desktop FX EMS due to client demand for mobility. It hired a lead iOS developer in April 2019, and released the first version to the iPhone AppStore in November.

Login and security, as well as efficient streaming, were the top challenges when building the mobile application, says Sweeny.

The app needs to deliver efficient real-time streaming data over low-bandwidth mobile networks, while handling frequent network drops and switches resulting from phones being on the move. The small screen of a handset means only a selected group of features are available on the mobile app, compared with the full range of desktop software.

We will also create other mobile apps to offer capabilities associated with trading, such as analytics
Paul Sweeny, BidFX

“On the desktop a trader might have six or more large, high-resolution monitors to work with. On mobile they have four to six inches of screen space,” says Sweeny. “Fingers are large relative to mouse pointers. We need thumb tip-size components to tap without error. Shrinking the user interface components to maximise screen real estate is not an option.”

One solution is to offer separate mobile applications. “We will also create other mobile apps to offer capabilities associated with trading, such as analytics,” says Sweeny.

The mobile app also needs to achieve interoperability with the existing back-end trading platform.

Authentication and security

Technologies contributing to the security of the app are extensive and the security aspects of the project represented the bulk of the development challenges, says Sweeny.

Paul Sweeny - BidFX.jpg
Paul Sweeny

In common with other mobile apps built for institutional trading, BidFX Mobile Trader uses biometric authentication – fingerprint or facial recognition – of a known user from a registered device.

“Biometrics are mandatory. Login is super simple with no need to type a password,” says Sweeny. “Registration is deliberately more involved.”

To register a device, users need a BidFX username and password, along with a one-time password that is sent to a pre-registered mobile number.

While the mobile app enables traders to check the market and place orders any time and anywhere, the desktop version will continue to exist as it offers a more comprehensive set of features.

“The mobile app offers a subset of trading features that are applicable to the pocket-size form. Over time we will enhance the Trader app; for example, to support more deal types,” says Sweeny. “But it is unlikely that mobile will ever replace the desktop for trading.” 

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