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Financial services organisations started shifting from denial to action in 2015.

Xignite

Q&A with Stephane Dubois, Founder and CEO, Xignite Inc.

Please give us a bit of background on yourself, and how your organisation plays a leadership role in the financial technology space.

I started Xignite more than 10 years ago after a 20 year career in Silicon Valley around enterprise software (Oracle) and investment management software (Advent Software). I fell into the data business when trying to build a wealth management platform and running into much pain and complexity trying to source and integrate financial market data into our application. To us, using XML APIs to deliver data seemed like the natural thing to do back then. Little did we know that we were quite a bit ahead of our time. We actually launched the first commercial pure-play API ever--again, without realising it.

Because we were so early with our easy to use REST APIs, fintech companies naturally picked us when they started their journey towards revolutionising financial services. This happened around 2008-2012, way before the Fintech Revolution started (circa late 2013 according to Google Trends). We solved a real problem for them. Legacy market data feeds were truly cumbersome and by using our APIs they could preserve their hard-raised capital and focus on innovation. And they did. We made market data simple for them. With a few lines of code they could start feeding data into their new robo-advisor platform or next generation lending solutions. They had no feeds or files to process and no infrastructure to build and maintain at high cost. So while we have not ourselves tried to revolutionise the world of payment, lending, trading or asset management, we have played a key role enabling the leaders in those fields - such as Betterment, Wealthfront, Robinhood, Square and OnDeck - innovate and reshape the world of financial services.

How well are financial companies adapting to the rapid pace of fintech development? What fields are furthest ahead of the game, and what sectors are being left behind?

Financial services organisations started shifting from denial to action in 2015. At first, many were just dismissive of the phenomenon. Then there was a wave of recognition that the threat was real, epitomised by Jamie Dimon's famous "Silicon Valley is coming" in his 2015 letter to JP Morgan's shareholders. Many financial institutions started buying fintech companies--most of which were our clients; BlackRock bought FutureAdvisor, Invesco bought JemStep and there were many others. Others--like JP Morgan--started to organise themselves as fintech companies.

In all fintech segments, you will find firms that are ahead of the game and some firms that are way behind. Just like you will find some locales are more advanced than others. What is most important is how deep the transformation is. This is not about small improvements. This is about changing some major assumptions regarding how firms operate and serve their customers. Advice for example, was something that the industry believed was rooted in personal relationships. Robo-advisors challenged that assumption forever and the financial advice industry will never be the same as a result. We see it in our field as well. We used to find financial services organisations rejecting the public Cloud and dismissive of APIs as "toys". Now many are engaging aggressively in order to build a transition path to using the Cloud for market data. They have realised they can no longer afford to forego the cost savings and innovation power that the market data cloud affords them.

What challenges do you see for fintech development and disruption, both from a user's perspective and from a regulatory standpoint?

While many firms sprouted up in all segments of the industry, the cold hard truth is that few will survive. And this will have little to do with users and with regulation. It has nothing to do with fintech per se and everything to do with how market expansion in new technology segments works. We have seen that over and over for 30 years now. This pattern could change, of course, but that is unlikely. This is how it works. New technologies and business models converge and come into the light. Entrepreneurs iterate and pivot around with this technology and business models until a new category is created and understood by all (e.g. Robo-Advisors). Once the category exists, one company will emerge as the leader and a few as challengers. Those companies stand a chance to standalone (i.e. IPO) as the market expands. Everyone else fails or gets acquired by other players.

It is true that fintech companies have benefited from a very limited regulatory landscape compared to their legacy peers. It is also true that it was excessive regulation imposed after the mortgage crisis that made it possible for the fintech revolution to emerge. The reason is that large banks got so busy with regulation that they forgot to innovate. They forgot they had clients.  So the world ahead of us will be more balanced: more regulation for fintech and less regulation for the banks in a post-Trump era. This again probably means that only the strongest will survive as independent businesses. But the technology and legacy of fintech will forever impact the industry.

What impact do you think Brexit will have on the broader financial technology industry in the UK?
The impact of Brexit is already felt by fintech. A recent report from CB Insights indicated that Germany overtook the UK for fintech funding in Q3. But I think that those shifts are more due to uncertainty than to actual concerns that the UK will lose its power position in the world of finance. We are ourselves looking into opening an EMEA office in 2017 and we are still going to do it in London due to the critical mass of fintech and finserv firms in the UK. The UK is easily our second largest market. Can a finance-savvy but standalone UK hold up against a unified but amateurish Europe? Time will tell.

How is API technology changing the financial services industry?

Financial services used to be a world of silos. For generations banks have grown up as protective ivory towers of redundant technology, legacy processes and complacency. The amount of regulation imposed on them over the years did not make things better. Sure, some industry exchange standards emerged over the years (SWIFT, ACH) but they were just as bloated and complicated as the industry itself. This completely stifled innovation. But banks are just data processing companies. The physical relationship with clients does not matter as much any longer, even with wealthy clients. APIs are a simple protocol that make exchange of information and transactions simple. It challenges the industry to its core. They must embrace it or crumble under the weight of their inner complexities and costs. We have seen it in our domain where banks used to love spending hundreds of millions of dollars on on-premise legacy market data technology that brought them little competitive advantage. Now they are coming to us saying "we are going to use APIs for this project". The reason is simple: the cost advantage and simplicity of Cloud APIs is just too compelling to be ignored.

What’s next for APIs in the financial services industry?

APIs is a very diverse ecosystem. There are many types of APIs and each will have a different impact on the industry. APIs are being used internally by banks to drive efficiencies and interoperability. That trend is here to stay and it will dramatically reduce operational costs for banks in the long term as well as fuel their ability innovate. Many banks are now dabbling with Open APIs which are allowing them to create innovation ecosystem around them--although a lot of that effort remains unfocused. Few banks except for challenger banks are actually providing API products so there is much to be done and discovered in this area. Where we see a lot of potential in the next three years is for banks to start becoming broad consumers of APIs provided by third parties. The Public Cloud will be the main beneficiary of this trend for sure, as billions of dollars in IT spending move from on premise deployment to consumption as an API. Market data--our domain--will also see a massive migration from on premise to API consumption as firms seek to migrate a lot of their legacy market data infrastructure to the cloud. Because of its scale, the public cloud is where all innovation will happen in the next few years. On-premise will fall behind not only in terms of costs, but in terms of availability of cutting edge technology--which will all be available via APIs.

What will you be discussing at The Economist's Finance Disrupted Conference on January 25th 2017 in London?

My focus for the conference will be to talk about the next generation of innovation around financial market data in the Cloud.

To learn more about the Finance Disrupted event, please click here.

RECENT NEWS

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, announced today it has enhanced the data coverage for its’ interbanks and interest rates APIs in preparation for the required transition from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) benchmark interest rate at the end of 2021.

Used in financial products such as adjustable-rate mortgages, consumer loans, credit cards and derivatives, LIBOR has been the world's most widely used benchmark for short-term rates. But after the 2008 financial crisis the U.S. Federal Reserve recommended a new benchmark interest rate to replace the outdated and problematic LIBOR. In the U.S market the new benchmark is Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR), which is based on transactions in the U.S. Treasury repurchase, or repo, market, where banks and investors borrow or lend Treasuries overnight. Other countries are introducing their own local-currency-denominated alternative reference rates for short-term lending.

Xignite banking, and Fintech customers that build apps for capital markets, investment management, financing, and foreign currency exchange purposes, require interbank and interest rates data to manage exchange and interest rate risk. Xignite enhanced its Interbanks and Rates APIs with SOFR earlier this year and has now added four of the alternative overnight risk-free rates (RFRs) recommended to replace LIBOR for currencies in respective markets. The new rates include Euro Short-Term Rate (ESTR), Swiss Reference Rates (SARON), Sterling Overnight Index Average (SONIA), and Tokyo Overnight Average Rate (TONAR). These additional rates are available now at no additional cost to customers.

“Our rates and InterBanks APIs were the first REST APIs ever released to serve the needs of the lending and banking industries. They uniquely aggregate rates that are used by dozens of firms globally in critical business processes,” said Vijay Choudhary, Vice President of Product Management for Xignite “Given the major shift the industry is experiencing regarding reference rates, it was critical for us to support those new rates to give our clients the data they need to run their businesses,” added Choudhary.

Xignite’s Interbanks API offers real-time and historical interbank and deposit rates for currencies in 40 countries. Xignite’s Interest Rates API provides interest rate data for over 600 global treasury, money market and private capital market instruments and benchmarks. The new alternative T+1 (24hr+ delayed) rates include:

  •         Europe: Euro Short-Term Rate (ESTR) is an interest rate benchmark that reflects the overnight borrowing costs of banks within the eurozone. The rate is calculated and published by the European Central Bank.
  •         Switzerland: Swiss Reference Rates (SARON) represents the overnight interest rate of the secured money market for Swiss francs (CHF). The rate is calculated and published by SIX.
  •         United Kingdom: Sterling Overnight Index Average (SONIA) is the effective overnight interest rate paid by banks for unsecured transactions in the British sterling.
  •         Japan: Tokyo Overnight Average Rate (TONAR) is an unsecured interbank overnight interest rate and reference rate for the Japanese yen. The rate is calculated and published by the Bank of Japan.

About Xignite

Xignite has been disrupting the financial and market data industry from its Silicon Valley headquarters since 2006, when it introduced the first commercial REST API. Since then, Xignite has been continually refining its technology to help fintech and financial institutions get the most value from their data. Today, more than 700 clients access over 500 cloud-native APIs and leverage a suite of specialized microservices to build efficient and cost-effective enterprise data management solutions. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

06/09/2021

Xignite, Inc., a provider of cloud-based market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today introduced XigniteGlobalCorporateActions, a new advanced API providing detailed corporate actions data for events such as stock splits, dividends, mergers, and spinoffs. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in corporate actions, annual meetings canceled, dividend payouts suspensions, and an accelerated company mergers and acquisitions rate. Knowing when a company plans to offer a split or undertake an acquisition is critical for buy-side and sell-side firms.

Corporate action processing is one of the “last frontiers of pain” for investment management, and one of the most manual and complex parts of back-office operations. The lack of uniformity and standards makes it difficult to identify and interpret information correctly. Obtaining accurate and timely information is challenging, and errors can result in painful financial losses. The XigniteGlobalCorporateActions is the first cloud-based REST API to eliminate the pains and complexity caused by legacy data feed and files. The API provides a single-source data stream with consistent information gathered from more than 190 exchanges and over 30,000 U.S. mutual funds.

The recent split of TSLA and AAPL stock on the same day illustrates the complex and far-reaching impact of corporate actions. If a firm does not do this correctly, it will show on historical charts, and their customers will notice. Xignite’s Data Quality team cross-validates our corporate actions data across sources and proactively detects and fixes any missing information. This prevents missing issues such as the TSLA and AAPL splits.

“The industry is facing a ‘perfect storm’”, says Vijay Choudhary, Vice President of Product Management for Xignite. “On one hand you have a massive wave of corporate actions fueled by the pandemic and the rising markets, and on the other you have millions of new retail investors eyeballing their investment applications all day long. One bad corporate action can send your customer service department into a tailspin,” added Choudhary. Additional detail on the Corporate Actions API endpoints:

GetDistributions - Returns cash and stock dividends as declared by the company for a requested security and date range.

GetDistributionsByExchange - Returns cash and stock dividends as declared by the company for a requested exchange and date.

GetEventSummaries - Provides a high-level overview of events for a requested security and date range.

GetMergers - Returns merger events for a given identifier and date range.

GetSpinoffs - Returns spinoff events for a given identifier and date range.

GetSplits - Returns the stock split history for a security for a specified date range.

GetTakeovers - Returns takeover events for a given identifier and date range.

Xignite

Xignite has been disrupting the financial and market data industry from its Silicon Valley headquarters since 2006 when it introduced the first commercial REST API. Since then, Xignite has been continually refining its technology to help fintech and financial institutions get the most value from their data. Today, more than 700 clients access over 500 cloud-native APIs and leverage specialized microservices-delivered modules to build efficient and cost-effective enterprise data management solutions. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite

05/18/2021

In the foreign metal market and the world of international rates, currencies play the crucial role of acting as the medium of exchange in the transactions that take place.

Currencies like the United States dollar, the Euro, or the British Pound are commonly used around the world in order to get a metal rate. Some companies that offer precious metal live and historical rates have exposed their APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to allow developers to integrate current and historical metal rates, currency conversion, or other capabilities into their applications.

In order to know about precious metals live and historical rates, there’s a lot of APIs available online, and if you want to try one, Barchart is going to be one of your first options. But if you take a look at what else is in the market, you’ll find alternatives so many great alternatives:

Xignite Market Data Cloud Platform

Xignite Market Data as a Service was one of the first market data services built to run in AWS and they are one of the few vendors that is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner with a Financial Services Competency.

With more than a decade of cloud expertise in building, scaling and operating cloud-based market data technology, it is no surprise that leading financial services and capital markets firms rely on this company to empower their journey to the cloud. Their Metals API Service offers real-time prices and quotes for metals including Gold, Silver, Palladium, Platinum and other base metals. In addition to real-time precious metals prices, the service provides daily London Fixing prices as well as historical precious metal prices and metal news. 

Xignite Cloud APIs are sourced from leading providers such as FactSet and Morningstar as well as Xignite’s own curated, high-quality data.

Read the article Top 3 Alternatives for Barchart Precious Metals Rates

02/25/2021