'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


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


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 or follow on Twitter @xignite


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."


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

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.