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The Now, The Cloud and the Crowd: What is Shaking Wall Street to Its Core? Part 2

Xignite

Bobs Guide Cloud Wall StreetFinance is often the last sector of the economy to embrace new technologies, preferring to shield it from tech booms that may lead to ruin. This caution hasn’t served Wall Street well in the past decade, however, because the industry has lost touch with the changing demands of the next generation of consumers, savers and borrowers. Much of that disconnect can be attributed to the increasing emphasis on regulation, but regardless of the cause, Wall Street fell asleep at the wheel while young entrepreneurs figured out how to reinvent finance for the era of the Now, the Cloud and the Crowd.

The Now

Most of Wall Street services and processes were engineered back when people had time and patience. That is so 1999. The Millennials are a generation defined by instant gratification. (We can thank Steve Jobs and weak parenting for that). Click. Done. Wall Street as an industry is still emerging from the seventies. Understand for instance it still takes three full days for a trade to settle in the US. There is so much legacy infrastructure and processes, layers upon layers of interconnected systems technology and software, much more manual intervention that you would dare to imagine, encumbered by massive regulatory constraints. Wall Street cannot do anything quickly and this has created a huge impedance mismatch with a millennial generation that does not give a damn about mahogany-lined conference rooms and certainly doesn’t want to talk to anyone about their investments. If Millennials want to open an account, they want to do it now! If they want to trade, they want to trade now. Don’t ask them to sign and fax a piece of paper to open their account because you lost them at paper.

The need for the Now is hitting all facets of the industry: money transfers, banking, lending. But nowhere is it more disruptive than in the area of wealth management. Financial advice used to be about personal relationships. Many believed this would never change. But today Robo-Advisors are threatening the industry. Now that software has been eating the world for a few years, you can delegate advice to a machine. Companies like Wealthfront, FutureAdvisor, Betterment and SigFig have all built-in - to a degree or another - instant gratification around their services. And customers are gobbling it up. Personal Capital just released its app on the Apple Watch this week. Wealth Management is now unified with the one device that is the embodiment of the Now.

Sure, the fact that Millennials have yet to experience a market downturn suggests that they will come crying to their human advisors at the next correction. But I doubt it. I predict that the so-called “robo-advisor” platforms will manage 15% to 25% of retail investable assets within 5 years.

The Cloud

We have been beating the Cloud drum for years now. Amazon Web Services is now a $5B business growing 50% a year. But why is this more relevant than ever to Wall Street?

The industry should have figured out how to take advantage of the public Cloud to eliminate the billions and billions of dollars it needs to shave from its cost structure. Instead, everyone builds the same technology infrastructure, deploys the same software, operates the same data centers, and builds up the same layers upon layers of brick-and-mortar technology to operate an industry that is essentially virtual. Spare a few ATMs here and there and you realise that from banking, to lending, to wealth management, to capital markets, the financial services industry is essentially perfectly suited for the ether, ideally positioned for taking advantage of the mutualised technology infrastructure offered by the public cloud. But it has wanted none of it. Why? The usual demons of security and regulation.

But startups don’t have that problem, unburdened by regulation, fueled by organic kale, yoga lessons while-you-work, and free lunches, they have embraced the cloud. I deal with fintech startups every day and we have hundreds of them as clients. They all pretty much run on Amazon Web Services. The public cloud and Amazon Web Services in particular, is the operating system of the future. A global processing infrastructure on a stick. Wall Street is fooling itself if it thinks it can beat Amazon at this game. The dice have been thrown.

The next generation of financial service companies—those who will be giving Jamie Dimon a run for his money - are being built on APIs and the cloud (itself a big API). And they will benefit from a massively smaller cost structure than their legacy competitors - which in the end will seal their success. It’s not only financial services firms that are being re-invented on the cloud, it is all their network of retail and institutional service providers. When your arm dealers are switching to the next generation technology, it’s time to renew your arsenal.

Nowhere is this problem more visible that in the sector served by my company, Xignite. The market data industry is a $26B market where most of the money is spent on proprietary technology inherited from the 80’s and 90’s and where redundant infrastructure spending is pervasive. Every single financial institution spends billions of dollars on the same technology as its competitors but draws very little competitive or service advantage. The public cloud and its lower cost structure is a lifeline that Wall Street must grab now.

The Crowd

Finally the biggest premise underneath Wall Street is also being challenged; that is has to be run be a set of gigantic highly leveraged, highly centralised, too-big-to-fail, century-old institutions to even work. New technologies have simply shattered that assumption with the unbundling of the bank as obviously the first step. Who needs a large bank providing a set of mildly integrated, average-quality services across the board when a crowd of new technology companies are able to provide a set of best of breed services all running in concert on the same device? Or when companies like Yodlee are able to provide those startups with an integrated view of the customer’s asset via easy APIs no matter where those assets are held. There is not a single sliver of service or technology infrastructure provided or used by large financial institutions today that is not under attack by dozens of startups worldwide. Take for instance Tradier who can provide you with a complete set of brokerage APIs to build your business upon. Ten years ago, doing this would have taken month and cost millions whereas now, a brokerage business can be built overnight. Sure not all startups survive but many will and have already changed the industry forever.  

And this not only applies to consumer-facing services like money transfers or savings accounts, it also applies to some core internal supply chains of the capital industry where the power of the Crowd is successfully applied to create alternative sources to Wall Street traditional fare. Estimize for instance, is applying the wisdom of the crowd to the earnings estimates and being very successful doing so - challenging big vendors like Thomson Reuters on a turf that is literally the beating drum of the markets. Vetr is also drawing upon the Crowd to rank stocks in a fashion similar to the way Morningstar built its famous star rating for mutual funds. Example abound in more obvious categories such as crowdfunding with companies like Kickstarter, Crowdnetic, Funding Circle, LendingClub and dozens of others worldwide.

There used to be a distinction between Wall Street and Main Street and at times their interest have not aligned. One of the biggest strength of Capitalism is its ability to self-improve. Today, Main Street and Wall Street are merging and they are leveraging new technologies to give the next generation what they really want: everything, right now, and for less.

Source: Bob's Guide

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