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Race to be the Big Wheel in Fintech

Xignite

Financial News Market Data CloudPoliticians’ pronouncements are often evasive but when George Osborne declared his hopes for
the future of financial technology in Britain, he did not mince his words.

Speaking at the launch of Innovate Finance, a fintech lobby group, in August, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer said: “I’m here today because I want the UK to lead the world in developing fintech. That’s my ambition – short and sweet. We have all the ingredients we need.” 

Nobody could fault his confidence. But was he right about that last bit? Is the mix of ingredients in
the UK quite right for world leadership?

To take the lead in fintech innovation, the UK would be challenging the US, which boasts Silicon
Valley, the world’s biggest tech centre, and Wall Street, which is breeding its own fintech
entrepreneurs.

A glance at where the money goes makes the UK look like a lightweight squaring up to a
heavyweight champion – of the $3 billion invested in fintech last year more than 80% was in the
US, according to consultancy Accenture. Mike Laven, the chief executive of the Currency Cloud,
based in London, has been working between the UK capital and his native Silicon Valley for more
than two decades. He said: “Every time you read about a $30 or $40 million deal in Silicon Valley,
that is contributing to the talent, whether it is technical or commercial talent. You don’t have the
breadth of that community here.”

The community is growing, however, for the very reason that originally made Silicon Valley grow –
London has all the right people in the same place. In fintech innovation, Silicon Valley is catering
for one of the world’s greatest financial centres and London for the other. Silicon Valley caters for
Wall Street, the far side of the US. London caters for … London.

If a fintech entrepreneur in Level 39, the incubator in One Canada Square in Docklands, wants a
chat with a potential customer in Barclays, HSBC, Citi, or any of the other big financial institutions
nearby, they can meet in Taylor St Baristas or Carluccio’s in about the time it takes to get their
coffees ready. Silicon Valley’s fintech entrepreneurs also want to talk to clients – but getting to Wall
Street means a five-hour flight to New York.

These are the ingredients that could give London an edge. Laven said: “I’m quite bullish on London
and I’ve been around this for some time. Ten years ago, we didn’t have the ecosystem of investors
and meetings and meet-ups and accelerators and all of the stuff that came in the last two years.”

London also outpunches Silicon Valley in other ways. Silicon Valley may dwarf London in fintech
innovation but the fintech sector as a whole is much bigger in the UK because there is such a
substantial financial services industry. There are about 44,000 people working in the fintech sector
in London – more than both Silicon Valley and New York, according to research by South Mountain
Economics and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Claire Cockerton, the chief executive of Innovate Finance, said: “We have a phenomenal
marketplace, the large existing incumbent banks are leaning forward to purchase and partner with
firms and we have a great consumer base.”

Having the City of London on your doorstep means start-ups that sell to financial institutions are
never too far away from their clients. And proximity to clients is key, say US fintech entrepreneurs.

Financial data firm Xignite, for example, is headquartered in San Mateo, California, but also has
offices at 48 Wall Street in New York. Stephane Dubois, founder and chief executive of the firm,
said: “If you’re selling to the banks and hedge funds, you have to spend time with your clients;
you’re going to have to be hanging out in the bars in New York, not San Francisco.”

Prabhu Venkatesh, chief scientist and co-founder of fintech firm Minetta Brook a capital markets
big data company with offices in Seattle and New York, said: “We have to be steeped in Wall
Street.”

London also has advantages simply because of its position on the planet – it is in the European
Union and in a time zone between Asia and the US. It is both an attractive destination for European
start-ups looking to expand and for companies looking to target emerging markets.

Amit Pau, managing director at London- based venture capital firm Ariadne Capital, said: “It has
the benefi ts of operating under the regulatory framework within Europe and remains compatible
with the time-zone differences with Asia.”

Ismail Ahmed, chief executive of London-based remittance company WorldRemit, says the UK’s
capital is well placed to lead in global fintech because it is that much more focused than the US on
“rest of world” solutions. Ahmed said: “Residing in a global financial hub that sits atop the prime meridian brings a certain perspective.” WorldRemit raised $40 million from Californian venture and growth equity firm Accel Partners in March.

Continental European companies that have recently set up shop in London say it was a natural
destination when looking to expand beyond their native markets.

Nick Bortot, the chief executive of Netherlands-based mobile trading company BUX, said: “As a
fintech firm from Amsterdam, London was naturally our next port of call. Like many fintech firms
from small European countries, we saw our home market as a testing ground. Once we proved our
product worked, we moved onto London as the first stepping stone to going international.”
In Silicon Valley, it is not just the weather that is sunnier than in London, according to several fintech
firm founders who have worked in the US and the UK. They say American culture is more forgiving
of failure, which makes it more attractive to entrepreneurs.

Brian Sentance, chief executive, of data management firm Xenomorph, which has offices in New
York and London, said that while London’s technology start-up environment has improved
dramatically in the past decade: “The biggest aspect that the US has is optimism.”

But while Silicon Valley certainly does not lack appeal for bright ambitious tech minds,
practitioners warn that growing in the US, particularly for fintech firms, may be more arduous than it looks. Not least because – unlike in the European Union,where firms need authorisation from only
one national regulator to operate in other member states – in some cases, fintech firms will need
separate authorisation from each US state they want to work in if they are dealing in sectors such
as payments or money transmission.

Richard Goold, a corporate partner at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, a law firm in London,
said: “You can get a regulatory approval in one European state and then simply passport it into
other EU states by notifying the relevant regulators. This is much quicker and easier then seeking a
new approval for each country or for each state in the US, which can sometimes happen.”
Aiming to make London an even more attractive destination for fintech, the UK government has
stepped up its game, introducing tax incentives for start-ups and measures specifically aimed at
fintech companies.

In August, for example, Osborne announced a programme to look into how virtual and digital currencies could or should be regulated in the UK, and legislation to help small and medium-sized businesses access alternative sources of finance if they are turned down for loans by their bank.

These measures could help London become a prime destination for alternative finance providers,
such as peer-to-peer lenders and cryptocurrency businesses, market participants say.
By contrast, the State of New York has proposed passing a regulatory framework on digital
currency called BitLicense, which some practitioners say creates expensive and complex
obligations for start-ups.

Gareth Jones, co-founder and general partner at New York-based fintech venture capital firm
FinTech Collective, said: “It could go one of two ways, either it makes it pretty onerous to start a
crypto-related business in New York and could push businesses to move to London. Or it creates a
set of rules and makes it very clear and understandable to attract businesses.” FinTech Collective is looking to setup shop in London, Jones said.

In line with Osborne’s fintech friendly attitude, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has also
extended a welcoming hand to the fintech community, launching Project Innovate, a programme
aimed at fostering innovation in financial services. The project will include the creation of an
incubator to help applicants through its authorisation process.

Mind the gap

While entrepreneurs in London welcome the government’s initiatives, they say the US has one
major advantage over Britain. London has a much smaller venture community and there is a gap in
funding of businesses that have got beyond the early start-up stage but are not yet making proper
profits, entrepreneurs say.

American-born Clare Flynn Levy, the founder and chief executive of Essentia Analytics, a Londonbased behavioural finance fintech start-up, said: “The missing link in London is capital.”

She added: “Ultimately, what makes UK companies move to the US is the fact that the US has a
competitive advantage when it comes to access to capital and, historically, US venture funds have
not had much natural incentive to invest overseas.”

Ironically, while London can boast being the home of Zopa, the world’s oldest peer-to-peer lending
platform, the US will soon be home of the first large peer-to- peer marketplaces to go public. San
Francisco-based peer-to-peer lending company Lending Club filed for a $500 million initial public
offering in August.

Philippe Gelis, the founder of currency transfer start-up Kantox, says London investors are, in some
cases, afraid of putting money behind this still fairly new sector. Gelis said: “Start-ups in the US
have the benefit of a more risk-happy culture, which has led to fintech firms such as Lending Club
making it all the way to a planned IPO.”

While competition is heating up between London, New York and Silicon Valley, some point out that
the race may very well include many other contenders.

Jones at FinTech Collective said that, while he sees London’s strengths and potential, he believes
that because of regulation, the fintech sector will develop as several leading hubs globally, rather
than just one. He said: “We will see a number of hubs. We will see London and New York absolutely but also Israel and Singapore and Sydney and, of course, Silicon Valley.

Each hub has its own spin

It seems every major American city wants to be a centre for fintech. Silicon Valley and New York
remain the most important hubs cited by fintech entrepreneurs and investors. But plenty more are
aiming to kick-start a local scene with a mix of local government and private sector initiatives.

Boston is often cited as a potential US fintech hub because of its broad bench of financial firms
from State Street to Wellington Management and a wide range of other money managers. Earlier
this year, big-name financial services fi ms including Thomson Reuters, Fidelity Investments and
Amazon threw their weight behind a planned Boston programme for fintech start-ups that will help
them access the data they need.

Atlanta, home to payment-processing firms such as ADP and First Data, has also increasingly
become a destination for start-up companies in the sector.

But Chicago, the place where high-frequency trading firms Jump Trading and Getco got their start,
has been less of a standout as a fintech hub, several lawyers and entrepreneurs said. Its start-up
accelerators and incubators do not concentrate as intensely on financial technology as in other US
cities.

Nevertheless, futures and options giant CME Group, based in Chicago, started a venture fund
early this year to invest in fintech start-ups that could benefit the group.

St Louis, a dark horse in the race, is working to put itself on the map, citing a cheaper cost of living
in the mid-west and a strong financial services tenant base. The mid-western city is home to
Citigroup’s mortgage lending unit, financial advisory firm Edward Jones and Wells Fargo Advisors,
among others.

Joe Reagan, president and chief executive of the St Louis regional chamber of commerce, said he
was promoting “start-up innovation in flyover country”. The chamber has invested more than $1
million in initiatives for start-ups.

Kevin Alm, principal in the client solutions group at Edward Jones, said it was a “loser’s game” to
try to be the next Silicon Valley – instead, the St Louis area should promote itself because of its
range of financial companies.

Reagan said mentoring between large and small financial companies is a core part of economic
development officials’ efforts. He said: “The secret sauce is that all of these start-ups get to be
connected with these large companies.”

The physical distance is not the only divide between the East and West coasts of the US, investors
and start-up founders say. There are also cultural differences between the types of fintech workers
and firms that populate Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

For one, West Coasters tend to have an eye for disruptive technologies, founders say. On Wall
Street, however, more fintech firms get their start working with large financial institutions.

Francis Wenzel, chief executive of big data firm TickSmith, which is based in Montreal with offices
in New York, added: “In New York, fintech firms take uncool problems and say how can we apply
cool technology to solve them. In Silicon Valley, it is more technology-led.”

There are also different attitudes to scale and profit, according to Stephane Dubois, founder and
chief executive of financial data firm Xignite, which is headquartered in San Mateo, California with
offices at 48 Wall Street in New York

Dubois said of New York: “People come from the industry, they have relationships. They always
find the first 20 customers. They can always get to a certain size and profitability pretty quickly.
What they might not get is big. Once you have 15 to 20 clients, you’ve probably been very custom
and not scalable.”

He added: “In Silicon Valley, they want to build something that can grow big and will stay away from
customisation.”

Source Financial News

RECENT NEWS

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today revealed the results of its collaboration with StockCharts, a leading technical analysis and financial charting platform for online retail investors. The collaboration involved a move from an on-premise market data provider to Xignite’s cloud-native technology hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS). Download the case study containing the full results.

StockCharts requires vast quantities of financial data to power its visualization, charting and tracking tools, which investors use to analyze the markets to help with investment decisions. The company was frustrated by the limits of its on-premise market data center, which was forcing the team to make architectural decisions based on what its data center could handle in terms of speed and storage, not on their technology. Its previous market data provider was just starting to build out some cloud offerings, but they were far away from what the business required. StockCharts decided to migrate its infrastructure to the AWS cloud and partner with Xignite to gain access to endlessly scalable market and financial data delivered through innovative cloud APIs.

The collaboration made an immediate impact as StockCharts was able to expand its offerings and customer base by pursuing growth strategies enabled by Xignite’s cloud-based approach, which provides easy access to data and eliminates architectural limits on storage and speed.

The pandemic provided further validation. Seattle-based StockCharts was in one of the first areas hit by COVID-19 and was forced to quickly shut down its office. Pandemic-driven market volatility followed and StockCharts customers wanted to visualize what was happening. The company’s ability to scale quickly and accommodate a high volume of new requests would not have been possible without Xignite.

“The move to the AWS cloud and Xignite has unlocked tremendous new potential for us in a lot of architectural ways, and has given us a lot of data options that we could not even consider before,” said Grayson Roze, Vice President of Operations at StockCharts. “It relieved us of the burden of figuring out how to source things. Instead, we know exactly where we need to go to get the data and can access it instantly. That is a huge, huge benefit for our business.”

“We are proud to have played a role in transforming how StockCharts approaches data,” said Stephane Dubois, CEO and Founder of Xignite. “The events of this year unleashed a massive spike in retail trading and a host of other unexpected forces that reinforced the need for financial services firms to leverage the cloud. Despite the disruption of this year, StockCharts was positioned for success, and we look forward to continuing to deliver our financial and market data solutions to the industry at large.”

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-delivered modules to build efficient and cost-effective enterprise data management solutions. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite

01/12/2021

Xignite, Inc., a provider of cloud-based market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today announced that its Market Data Management-as-a-Service solution has been named “Best New Technology Introduced over the last 12 months – Infrastructure” at the 2020 WatersTechnology American Financial Technology Awards (AFTAs). Selected by the editors of WatersTechnology, the AFTAs recognize excellence in the deployment and management of financial technology within the asset management and investment banking communities.

Xignite’s Market Data Management-as-a-Service (MDMaaS) solution enables buy- and sell-side firms to centralize the management of vendor data feeds into their own cloud environment. The solution is built around the cloud microservice-based architecture and technology stack Xignite has been refining and scaling for more than 10 years. Xignite’s technology platform has been the backbone of the company’s Data-as-a-Service business, daily supporting 12 billion API requests of financial data for their 700 fintech and financial services clients. Now Xignite is leveraging this battle-tested cloud-native data management architecture to offer buy- and sell-side firms a market data vendor agnostic offering, with connectors available for firms to load data they license from Bloomberg, Refinitiv, ICE and numerous other providers.

The MDMaaS solution includes a suite of loosely-coupled modules that enable market data user firms to control their data usage, automate entitlements, optimize their data spend and minimize liabilities by simplifying data governance and ensuring regulatory compliance.

The functionality is delivered via microservices, an architectural approach in which core functionality is handled by loosely coupled, independently deployable modules that can work together or separately. Microservices architecture stands in stark contrast with monolithic platforms that require expensive on-premise technology – that is especially hard to maintain in the context of a pandemic.

The MDMaaS microservice-delivered modules introduced in 2020 include:

Xignite Entitlements and Usage - Manage the entitlement of vendor data to users and applications to ensure compliance and eliminate excess spend.

Xignite Optimization - Streamline data consumption to avoid duplicated vendor requests, leverage cached bulk data and get recommendations to reduce data costs.

Xignite Data Lake - Centralize, catalog and connect data shapes to enable frictionless integration by consumers via unified cloud APIs.

Xignite Reference - Aggregate, normalize, store and index vendor reference data to centralize enterprise-wide access.

Xignite Historical - Provide centralized access to normalized, stitched and adjusted historical data via cloud APIs.

Xignite Real-Time - Distribute real-time vendor data via cloud APIs, eliminating on-premise infrastructure.

Xignite Fundamentals - Make simple and complex time-series data structures available via cloud APIs.

“Xignite has pioneered market data in the cloud for more than 10 years now, so we are very excited to announce – and be recognized for – our Market Data Management-as-a-Service solution,” said Stephane Dubois, CEO, and founder of Xignite. “The pandemic has reinforced the need for financial services firms to migrate to the cloud as a means of navigating disruption and enabling scalability, among other benefits. We are proud to spearhead that effort and help the industry modernize its approach to financial and market data.”

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 via its Data-as-a-Service and Market Data Management-as-a-Service solutions. 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

01/06/2021

Read the entire article at Business Insider

The Department of Justice has officially sued Visa to block its $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid — and the fintech world is scrutinizing what this might mean for the industry.

Business Insider spoke with Xignite's CEO and Founder Stephane Dubois, and other legal and industry experts on how they see the DoJ's lawsuit shaking out — and what this means for the fintech world.

If the Justice Department wins in court, the merger could be scuttled
Stephane Dubois, the CEO of financial data provider Xignite, thinks that the fact that the DOJ sued suggests that it does probably have a solid legal basis for its allegations.

Unless Visa — which has been represented by powerhouse law firm Skadden in connection with the deal — can fight the DOJ's lawsuit on a legal basis and argue successfully that the government's argument is too speculative, that they're not anticompetitive, he doesn't think the acquisition will go through.

Otherwise, Visa would need to comply with conditions set by the DOJ — for example, lower fees on credit cards, or breaking up its business — to make itself non-competitive. But he's not sure if Visa would be willing to do that.

Dubois said such a lawsuit could be a "cold shower" for fintechs that are considering mergers and acquisitions given the massive $200 million Plaid paid for its API competitor, Quovo, in January 2019, not to mention the $5.3 billion price tag of Visa's acquisition of Plaid.

The DOJ's lawsuit could fail and Visa's acquisition could go through, but with diverging possible outcomes for Plaid and other fintechs

Dubois sees several possible outcomes playing out should the DOJ's lawsuit fail. The acquisition would go through and Visa could continue to make Plaid available to fintechs, but in a way that it doesn't "cannibalize" its own business — for example, by charging 3% fees to competitor services that Plaid enables.

It's also possible that Visa shuts down Plaid after a successful acquisition, essentially squashing competition for the market, something Dubois called a "worst case scenario."

11/05/2020

Yugabyte, the leader in open-source distributed SQL databases, today announced that market data distribution and management solutions provider Xignite has selected YugabyteDB as its database of choice to power its cloud-native financial data distribution and management solutions. Xignite selected Yugabyte’s distributed SQL database based on YugabyteDB’s high performance, on-demand scalability, and operational ease. 

“Due to the nature of our business, performance and scalability are the two most important factors we look for in a database solution,” said Dr. Qin Yu, VP of Engineering, Xignite. “Financial data is ever-changing and we need to capitalize on that data to give our customers the most accurate, real-time view of the markets. The performance and scalability of YugabyteDB allows us to provide granular data in real-time to our high-profile clientele, combined with the Yugabyte Platform, which greatly simplifies operations and management. In addition, we have come to rely on the Yugabyte as key partners, providing us with a best-in-class distributed SQL platform and support.”  

Xignite provides customers with a scalable way to manage, control, and optimize real-time and reference data across traditional systems and cloud applications. It does this through its cloud-native market data platform that unifies financial data consumption and market data management—delivering clients a real-time view of market activity as a service via the cloud. However, serving financial services and fintech customers like Robinhood, SoFi, Investopedia, and BlackRock requires scaling as their data requirements change and grow, while still providing the high availability and high performance they need and expect.  

“When you’re building a leading market data management platform like Xignte, data accuracy and availability are absolutely imperative,'' said Karthik Raganathan, CTO and Co-Founder, Yugabyte. “Making sure customers have always-on access to real-time and reference data in a market with high–and continuously growing–volumes, sources, and types of data puts extensive demands on the scalability and performance of a database and the teams that support it. We are thrilled to be a partner to Xignite, eliminating their database pain points and enabling the Xignite team to invest more time and money in building new features for their customers.” 

As Xignite’s business grows, so does the amount and granularity of data, creating the need to quickly scale the database tier. Scaling Microsoft SQL Server on AWS with Amazon RDS was very challenging, requiring manual partitioning of data at the application layer, which was time-consuming and increased complexity. After trying MySQL and considering NoSQL solutions, Xiginite turned to Yugabyte to address its need for a database provider that could easily scale on-demand, future-proofing the company for continued growth. Yugabyte has seamlessly handled Xignite’s performance requirements for both reads and writes, and enabled the company to add capacity and scale quickly, with operational ease and no downtime.

Moving to YugabyteDB has enabled Xignite to scale to more than 11 terabytes of data, unlock new use cases that would not have been possible with the older technology stack, and achieve an overall cost savings of approximately 50% compared to SQL Server.

For further information on Xignite’s work with Yugabyte visit www.yugabyte.com/success-stories/xignite/

About Yugabyte
Yugabyte is the company behind YugabyteDB, the open source, high-performance distributed SQL database for building global, internet-scale applications. YugabyteDB serves business-critical applications with SQL query flexibility, high performance and cloud native agility, thus allowing enterprises to focus on business growth instead of complex data infrastructure management. It is trusted by companies in cybersecurity, financial markets, IoT, retail and e-commerce verticals. Founded in 2016 by former Facebook and Oracle engineers, Yugabyte is backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Dell Technologies Capital. www.yugabyte.com.

11/05/2020