Money Moves

New technology drives currency trading

by Alex Chan

Ben Robson, director, CMC Markets Asia Ltd
Photo: Tony Yu

The introduction of online platforms has created greater transparency in the currency trading market. Investors can now compare spreads and commissions far more easily and find what offers best value for their individual trading needs. However, since the new systems also provide virtually equal access for both small and large volume traders, they have led to intensified competition and become the latest battleground for companies in the sector.

Ben Robson, director of CMC Markets Asia Ltd, believes that having superior technology is now the key to gaining a competitive edge. "The market trend is towards greater use of technology, and having the best IT-driven services will set companies apart in future," he says.

For this reason, CMC has introduced the mobile market maker, a version of the company's online currency trading platform, which can be accessed through any GPRS mobile phone. "It basically allows our customers to trade anywhere 24 hours a day via their mobile telephones," Mr Robson says.

As a newcomer in the local market, the company opened its Hong Kong office last May and quickly captured market share thanks to the online platform, which has been in constant development since 1996. It has won several prizes for excellence and allowed the UK-based company to expand into eight other countries.

"We now offer the tightest spreads in Hong Kong; we have 64 currency pairs, and for most of the major currencies, we offer three pip spreads," says Mr Robson. He adds that the mobile market is regarded as extremely important, since it is the first of its kind in Hong Kong. "Traditionally, we have been a market leader in technology," he says. "Therefore, I have no doubt that other companies will eventually follow us with similar mobile trading services."

One of CMC's ongoing targets is to educate the Hong Kong public about the advantages of investing in currencies. Since the extremely volatile and relatively complicated warrants market is proving increasingly popular with local investors, Mr Robson believes this should be possible. He notes especially that currencies are a lower risk investment and can offer great returns.

"We are at a very interesting stage in the currency market and there are some general trends worth watching closely," he says. "For example, if people believe that the renminbi will strengthen, then investing in a proxy currency such as the Japanese yen or the Singapore dollar may be a good idea."

Mr Robson believes that there is always a chance to make money in the currency market as long as investors manage their risks correctly. "I think everyone should have a small amount of their portfolio in currencies," he concludes.

Taken from Career Times 07 April 2006, p. A2
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