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The FinTech Capital - 4th Edition

Xignite

LONDON’S FINTECH LEADERS TALK INVESTORS, START-UPS, COMMUNITIES & NEW FINTECH, TRADING TECHNOLOGY, ETRM/CTRM, BIG DATA AND OUTSOURCING VS. INSOURCING

The scene occurs at a San Francisco hipster bar in late 2014. She asks “And what do you do during the day?” He calmly says, while tucking his plaid shirt in and rubbing his fully-grown beard, “I work in a fintech startup.” “Me too,” she replies giggling. “Are you in payments or digital wealth management?”

The story draws a smile. Two years ago, few millennials in San Francisco knew what fintech (e.g. financial technology) was, but now they all see it as their ticket to fame and fortune-via-IPO. Move over social networks and micro-blogging; the next innovation frontier lies at the crossroad of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.*

Just in the month of October 2014, fintech companies in the US have raised more than $1B, including the $75M IPO of valley-veteran Yodlee, the $64M raised by digital wealth management fintech poster-child Wealthfront, and the $150M raised by payment darling Square. The capital flows and the hefty valuations don’t lie: fintech is on fire, and that fire is not only burning in the US; fintech ecosystems are flaring up in Singapore, London, Frankfurt and Paris, and many other technology centers in the world.

It was not always like this. If you tried to raise money in fintech during the years that followed the fall of Lehman Brothers, most venture capital and private equity firms would have gently pushed you out to the curb with a polite “We are not investing in fintech right now,” but today money is gushing out of their funds faster than their fledgling startups can spend it, and they are briskly updating their websites to make you believe they were in fintech all along.

So what has changed since the doom-days of finance?

The first change is economical: The markets are back in the saddle. As proof, the Dow Industrial has broken its all-time record high 79 times in 2013 and 2014 alone, and it closed on October 13, 2014 at its highest value in history. As a rising tide lifts all boats, the bubbling markets have boosted financial services and yanked financial technology in their trail. One thing that stands out in the growth of the markets is the meteoric growth of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)—which has exceeded every other asset class since their inception 20 years ago. Assets in ETFs now exceed 3 trillion dollars. Their inherent ease of use (as they combine the passive investment convenience of mutual funds with a level of trading ease that was previously only found in equities) could certainly explain some of the rebirth in the markets. In any case, finance is hot again. God bless America.

The second change is technological: It’s been almost 20 years since the Internet revolution began on August 9, 1995 (the day of the Netscape IPO), and technology has matured tremendously in many areas. Those concurrent evolutions have combined to create a cradle of innovation which is fueling the Fintech Fire:

  • The scaling of the public cloud (e.g., Amazon Web Services) which not only lets startups rev up on a dime, but also confers them a significant long-term cost structure advantage.
  • The maturing of app development via open source, re-usability and tools has reduced costs and timelines to hours or days. Imagine holding up a weekend-long hackathon in 1992; it just would not have worked.
  • The coming of age of social networking and search engine optimization (SEO) that have automated go-to-market strategies and slashed customer acquisition costs. With social contacts, adoption can go viral. Virality was not conceivable 10 years ago. It is not even a valid word in my spell-checker.
  • The dawn of APIs (whether used for trading via FIX or for market data consumption, as with my company Xignite) enables true end-to-end automation of processes that used to be complex and human-intensive. Fifteen years ago—without easy trading, market data and account funding APIs—digital wealth management companies like WealthfrontPersonal Capital or Betterment could not have existed.

The convergence of those trends is allowing startups everywhere to reinvent every vertical segment of financial technology with a new angle and with solutions that are easier, faster and better. This is hitting traditional financial service institutions like a high speed train. Most of them have had their heads buried in the sand focused on regulation and cost savings since the days of that infamous Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Wall Street is now petrified that Silicon Valley is about to eat its lunch, and it is scrambling to catch up. But once you see that most large banks still twitch when one whispers the word cloud, you realize that the technology and cost advantage of the fintech revolutionaries is significant indeed. God bless APIs.

The third change is social. It has to do with a generational replacement of a population that has grown up with the Internet, surrounded by mobile devices, and used to instant gratification and levels of ease-of-use never experienced by humanity before. That generation could not care less about traditional investment and advice models. They would not think twice about banking with Google, Starbucks or Facebook if it were available. They are not worried about security on the Internet, and the last thing they want is to have to talk with someone to get anything done. They are ready to use Siri to place a trade and expect an investment account to open and be funded instantly.

According to a survey conducted by eTrade, the majority (72%) of millennials want a financial advisor like R2-D2— “a copilot with diverse skills who helps you when you need it and offers a variety of tools you can use yourself.” Only 28% of them are looking for a friend like C-3PO (i.e., “a constant companion focused on your money who will always tell you what to do”).  If you are betting that millennials will reverse their habits to that of their parents once they hit the age of 40, you may lose.

One may look at the mortgage crisis and think that because of it, financial services will never be the same. But the impact of the financial mortgage crisis is negligible compared to what millennials will have on the industry as they grow up. God bless our children.

So the fintech fire is being fueled by three deep-seated technological, social and economic transformations that are catalyzing to create an innovation bonanza that is turning the industry upside down. Of the three, only the first one is cyclical, and even if a bear market could put a cold shower on the whole phenomenon, the lasting characteristics of the two other trends allow us to safely predict that financial services and financial technology will never be the same.

* Technically a bit north of that, since Wall Street is now lined-up with condos and neglected for hip neighborhoods uptown by New York startups, and since Silicon Valley has been displaced by San Francisco as the startup capital of the world.

Stephane Dubois is CEO and founder of Xignite and a sought-after observer and contributor to the fintech community.

Source: The Harrington Star

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