FX: Going Mobile with Monitoring Positions

Since launching mobile versions three years ago, OANDA has seen roughly 300,000 copies of its fxTrade app downloaded to Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.

This indicates a “dramatic shift” in behavior among currency traders, according to Trevor Young, director of product management for the Toronto-based supplier of institutional-quality trading software.

“The dominant form of usage is now shifting to mobile devices,’’ Young said Tuesday at the Bryant Park Hotel in New York, where the firm was launching revamped versions of fxTrade.

Now, all charts and touch points have been designed especially for the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. Users can rotate screens as needed, from vertical to horizontal. Functions are designed for one-handed manipulation, according to senior mobile developer Kevin Everets. The amount of history on currency prices has been increased. And users can ask for and get historical charting down to five-second intervals. With the results being updated every second.

Such advances and general movement to use of mobile devices for news, entertainment and other computing purposes has driven usage of the fxTrade mobile apps from somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent of OANDA’s customers in 2010, to nearly a third now. The apps accounted for between 2 and 3 percent of volume then and 15 percent now.

Its institutional customers, which include the Royal Bank of Scotland and a host of hedge funds whose names the company is not at liberty to disclose, though, do not use the mobile apps for trading, said Young.

Instead, they are used for “remote monitoring” of currency positions. Institutional traders use the app to take in news and analysis from sources that include Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters and UBS and to get price alerts, before and after office hours, he says.

The fxTrade also allows both immediate execution and instant settlement on trades of any size, between 1 and 10 millionunits and interest calculated by the second.

The company is looking to grow its institutional business, now a minority of its sales. Its new chief executive, K Duker, ran the firm’s institutional sales operation in Singapore. Now, he’s moving to the company’s base in Canada.

The company also is looking to create an interface that will allow hedge funds, banks and other trading firms to hook up their automated trading systems to the OANDA platform.

With the advent in particular of tablet computers, whose screens can be used as replacements for desktop equivalents, “people are actually looking to use this as their primary interface” to foreign exchange markets, Young contended at the launch event.