'The Banks Almost Forgot They Had Customers'


Article by Samantha Sharf

Late last month I moderated a panel at the TradersExpo, a three day conference hosted by MoneyShow to bring active traders together mostly to learn about and discuss strategy. Our panel featured three companies from FORBES’ Fintech 50 list—IEX, Motif and Xignite—and focused not on techniques for trading, but on the future of trading.

A nice thing about getting representatives from these particular companies together is that they are not competitors. Each one is tackling a different piece of the trading process and trying to improve it.

Xignite organizes and packages financial market data for more than 1,000 financial companies to use in their apps and websites. Motif invites investors to design, share and buy themed ETF-like portfolios of stocks. And IEX aims to makes the hidden process after an investors hits buy or sell more equitable by inserting a “speed bump.”

What follows is a, lightly edited, snippet from that conversation. About halfway through the hour-long panel I asked about fractional share trading, which makes it possible to take a position in a stock without buying a full share or a whole number of shares. After some talk on the logistics of this, the discussion seamlessly turned to disruption more broadly, why big banks have largely failed to innovate and signs of an emerging true between finance incumbents and fintech startups.

Stephane Dubois, founder & CEO, Xignite: What the industry has done over the last few years is really lower the cost, lower the friction around investment. Ask yourself, why didn’t the big Wall Street firms invent fractional shares? It used to be you’ve got investment advisors managing your account, otherwise it was all just self-directed. These were the two poles you could choose from, there was nothing in the middle. Now what we are seeing are tons of new companies, Motif and others, innovating, using fractional shares and trying to do zero cost trading.

But why did that happen? What we have seen, as a provider to the fintech players, is that post-mortgage crisis, post-2008 the banks almost forgot they had customers. They have been buried in regulation, they have been focused on all the things the regulators force them to do and thy stopped innovating, whether it was the front end services they provide their clients or the type of technology they offered. It was still high cost, therefore [the thinking was] “I can only service people who have a lot of money in their accounts via advisors.” Meanwhile, they opened a huge avenue to Hardeep and other guys in Silicon Valley or New York or London to invent a lot of this. This is why it is coming from Silicon Valley. It is about cost and friction.

Hardeep Walia, founder & CEO, Motif Investing: It is. To give some credit to the big firms, and not just because they are investors in our company, it is hard to move a tanker. It’s the classic innovators dilemma, how do we go in? There have been innovations in the past, but think about it, if a traditional online broker were to offer what we do—30 stocks for the price of one, or 33-cents a stock ticker—they wouldn’t be in business. [Motif charges $9.95 for baskets of up to 30 stocks, $4.95 to trade individual stocks.]

You see this across technology, with the move to the cloud, all of these things shake up the economics. What drives a lot of the change is that most people don’t know that your typical online broker makes more money holding your cash than from trading. E-Trade, 68% of their revenue comes from holding cash, very little of it comes from trading [double checked this, in the most recent quarter E*Trade earned 63% of its revenue from operating interest income, 22% from commissions]. A lot of the models of investing are changing very dramatically. Nobody out there can make money at 33-cents a stock ticker, we do. That’s the part that’s changing.

For the big guys, they have advantages of scale. Unlike Uber challenging the taxi industry, Wall Street is very smart. They know what they want to do and they actually want to participate in this. That is why they invest in our company. They have the challenge of an incumbency. When you are very very big it is hard to move and innovate fast enough. But it’s happening, you’re seeing now more and more and more that this is a very different scenario than the traditional David versus Goliath where a small tech startup goes in [and defeats the big guy].

The big guys get it, which is something most people don’t realize. They see what their role is. You see Jamie Dimon [CEO of JP Morgan Chase] writing in his letter: “Silicon Valley is coming.” Silicon Valley is coming. The question is what do you do about it? That is the part that is going to be interesting, to see what happens as we work together and figure out new models. This is not an industry that is fighting change, at some level they’ve got to figure out how to transition to this new model.

Laurence Latimer, venture strategist, IEX Group: Let me add, I would say some parts of the industry are not fighting change, other parts of the industry are fighting change. One of the things that has been most relevant for us as an exchange is getting to understand the transparency that happens once you press go. When you send your order down through your retail account there are a lot of way that the trade and the information you put in that trade can be utilized by your brokerage and other downstream participants. If you follow the money, particularly for larger incumbents there is a reluctance to get too far ahead of the curve because it strikes at the heart of their business models. Startups are bringing the types of transparency and options particularly at retail but also at the institutional level to make smarter decisions about the information they get, how they trade and also what happens after they hit go on that trade.

Walia: Is part of that the fact they don’t see that? How do you then get people to care?

LL: Yes, exactly. You’re talking about 33-cents a trade, what you are seeing on the retail side is that 33-cents. You’re not seeing everything that is happening to your order that your broker dealer is facilitating. They are making money somehow. On the consumer side, many of us may have a Google account, a Gmail account. We think about it as free but it is not free. If you look at the advertising revenue Google gets globally each user is about $24, $25 to Google each year. In this case you are the product. For many of your broker dealers on the retail side you are also the product, your order is their product and they are making money somehow. Part of what IEX is trying to do is make sure that there is increased visibility and increased transparency around what happens after you press go. It is a very small time frame that is considered real time, but a lot can happen in real time that is not necessarily to your benefit.

Source: Forbes


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


Each year, Bobsguide asks the market to vote for fintech companies they believe stand out from the competition – those who have gone the extra mile in terms of development and servicing their clients. Xignite is proud to be listed as the "Best API Management" vendor on the Bobsguide 2020 Rankings.

Read article on Bobsguide


Web services data provider Xignite captured the AFTAs judges’ attention on the infrastructure front with its release of Xignite Enterprise Microservices in July 2020, a suite of cloud-based microservices for data management, storage and distribution in the cloud, designed to help financial firms migrate from monolithic legacy data architectures to more agile and less expensive cloud services and data sources.

Requires subscription to read the article on WatersTechnology


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 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 or follow on Twitter @xignite