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September 20, 2011

BofA Launches HFT Market Access

By James Armstrong

Bank of America Merrill Lynch rolled out a new market access platform for high-frequency traders that performs government-mandated risk controls while minimizing latency.

The technology connects to all major U.S. equity exchanges.

Dubbed "Express," the product promises latencies of less than 10 microseconds. Average latencies tend to be considerably less than that, but can vary depending on a number of factors, according to the company.

Tim Cox, director of global execution services for BofA Merrill, said the platform was designed for high-frequency traders, but he expects non-HFT clients to use the system as well.

"We look at it as democratizing infrastructure," Cox said. "Technology is a great equalizer, and we have every expectation that non-high-frequency institutions will take advantage of this."

The software is built on a high-speed network, which he said is important, as networking times make latencies for order-entry look insignificant. Traders not operating on high-speed networks are not competitive, regardless of how fast their risk- checks are, he added.

Express was initially developed by Thesys Technologies, the infrastructure affiliate of high-frequency trading firm Tradeworx. BofA Merrill continues to have an ongoing relationship with Thesys for support of the product.

The product will roll out in Europe and Asia over the next several quarters.


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