Banks focus on single-bank systems post AusMarkets

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

SYDNEY -- Australian banks are redirecting e-commerce investment towards their proprietary FX trading platforms, following the shelving of planned regional multi-bank trading portal AusMarkets last year.

The portal, which ANZ, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp originally planned to launch last year, is still legally intact. But it is "unlikely to go ahead", according to former chief executive Simon Narroway, last week.

"Practically, there are no staff, and I think it very unlikely that the shareholders would resurrect it," he said.

Antony Challinor, head of Financial Markets e-strategy at Westpac in Sydney, told FX Week: "AusMarkets still has potential, but we were probably ahead of our time. We need to see a bedding down of customer acceptance for executing financial markets transactions over the e-channel."

In the meantime, Westpac’s single-bank e-trading service, launched last year, is showing early signs of success. "We have noticed that once our clients start to trade electronically, they tend to move up to 80% of their transactions online very quickly," said Challinor.

He added that banks are now more careful about where they direct their liquidity than they were 12 months ago, although Westpac remains committed to multi-bank portals FXall, in which it holds an equity stake, and State Street’s FXConnect.

New products

ANZ’s head of e-commerce John McComb told FX Week the bank would extend its e-commerce platform to include new capital markets products this year, but he did not give further details. The bank operates an online FX trading platform, called anz.com FX Online, which it developed in conjunction with Reuters in 1998.

NAB recently added non-deliverable FX forwards to its eFX Dealing service, part of the NABmarkets platform.

The four shareholding banks voted unanimously to put Ausmarkets on hold last November, fearing that customer take-up rates would be slower in an uncertain global markets environment (FX Week, November 19).

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