Articles related to financial technologies (fintech)
Distributed ledgers technology also known as Blockchain, offers a new way to data management and sharing that is being used to propose solving many inefficiencies affecting the financial industry. Technology experts, Fintech start-ups, banks and market infrastructure providers are working on underlying technologies and its potential use in the industry. However the journey of such transformation may take long. In this post we will focus on the benefits and architectural changes Blockchain could bring to capital market, and some example from such appliances across exchanges around the world.
The potential benefits of Blockchain technologies could cover different process within different stages in capital markets. In order to expose why capital markets would pursue to Blockchain technologies its worth taking a look at the benefits across pre-trade, trade, post-trade and security servicing.
Blockchain technology will establish more transparency on verification of holdings. Additionally it reduces the credit exposure and making Know-your-customer way simpler.
For this stage, Blockchain technologies provide a more secure, real-time transaction matching and a prompt irrevocable settlement. Blockchain could also help automating the reporting and more transparent supervision for market authorities, we could add higher standards for anti-money laundering.
In this regard it eliminates the demand for central clearing for real time cash transactions, reducing collateral requirements. Blockchain technology enables quicker novation and effective post-trade processing.
Securities and custody servicing:
Distributed asset ledgers with flat accounting structures could remove some of the role which custodians and sub-custodians play today. Custodians’ function might change to that of a ‘keeper of the keys’, managing holdings data and ensuring automatic securities servicing operations are done correctly. To that end we could also add advantages such as common reference data, simplification of fun servicing, accounting, allocation and administration.
Nasdaq has become the forefront of blockchain revolution, they have and are currently involved with many blockchain jobs. To name these endeavors, it started with Nasdaq Linq blockchain ledger technology. Linq is the primary platform in a recognized financial services firm to show how asset trading could be managed digitally through the usage of blockchain-based platforms. Nasdaq has continued more to blockchain, showing that, it is working to develop a trial utilizing the Nasdaq OMX Tallinn Stock Exchange in Estonia which will discover blockchain technology being used as a way to reduce obstacles preventing investors by engaging in shareholder voting. The intention is to boost efficiency in the processing of purchases and sales of fund units and also to make a device ledger — a place which currently is primarily characterized by manual patterns, longterm cycles and newspaper driven processes.
London Stock Exchange developed to simplify the tracking and management of shareholding information, the new system plans to make a distributed shared registry comprising a list of all shareholder trades, helping to open up new opportunities for investing and trading.
Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), is all about the replacement of this system that underpins post-trade procedures of Australia’s money equity marketplace, known as CHESS (the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System). ASX is working on a prototype of a post-trade platform for the cash equity market using Blockchain. This initial phase of work was completed in mid-2016. In December 2017 ASX completed its own analysis and assessment of the technology which included:
- Comprehensive functional testing of the critical clearing and settlement functions currently performed by CHESS
- Comprehensive non-functional testing (scalability, security and performance requirements) for a replacement system when deployed in a permissioned private network
- A broad industry engagement process to capture users input on the desired features and functions of a replacement solution
- Third party security reviews of the Digital Asset DLT based system.
The Korea Exchange (KRX), South Korea’s sole securities market operator, has established a new service where equity shares of startup businesses may be traded on the open marketplace. The Coinstack platform will offer record and authentication options for your KSM by checking against client references which have already been provided to the platform by Korean banks such as JB Bank, KISA, Lottecard, Paygate in addition to others.
Deutsche Börse Group has developed a theory for riskless transfer of commercial bank funding through an infrastructure based on distributed ledger technology. By combining blockchain technology using its proven post-trade infrastructure, Deutsche Börse aims to achieve efficiencies while at exactly the same time investigating possible new business opportunities enabled by this technology.
Japan Exchange Group: IBM had teamed up with Japan Exchange Group, which works the Tokyo market, to begin experimenting with blockchain technology for clearing and other operations. IBM says it expect the technology will reduce the cost, complexity and speed of settlement and trading procedures.
On 26th of October 2017, the “Trading CEE: Equities and Derivatives” conference took place in Warsaw. This is one of the most important financial industry related events in Central and Eastern Europe. The co-organizers of the event were the Warsaw Stock Exchange, the Global Investor Group and the National Depository for Securities. Michał Różański, CEO of Empirica took part in a panel devoted to the future of the fintech industry.
The Trading CEE was held in Warsaw’s Hilton hotel, where several hundred capital markets experts had the opportunity to talk about such important issues as the Mifid II regulation, or the scale of the fintech revolution in Poland and internationally.
They also discussed the decision made recently by FTSE Russell (the supplier of indices belonging to the London Stock Exchange group) to change the status of Poland from that of an Emerging Market into that of a Developed Market and considered the significance of this shift for the national economy.
Among many of the excellent speakers, we had the change to listen to Marek Dietl, President of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and Toby Webb, Head of EMEA Information Services FTSE Russell. The inaugural panel on the opportunities and threats facing investment markets in our region gathered such experts as Ales Ipavec, head of the stock exchange in Ljubljana, Richard Vegh from the Budapest Stock Exchange, Ivan Takev, head of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and Head of International Sales of the Moscow Stock Exchange Tom O ‘ Brien.
Fintech Innovation Forum
The panel regarding the fintech industry was very popular among visitors, especially the topic of the development of tools based on artificial intelligence and their impact on investment markets in Poland. It was organized in such a way as to allow for 4 of the most promising Central & Eastern European companies in the modern financial technologies industry to present what they offer. One of the main participants of this part of the Trading CEE conference was Michał Różański, CEO and founder of Empirica, the fintech software house.
During his speech, he focused mainly on the presentation of innovations in the field of robo-advisors, which are already revolutionizing the global investment market.
– The robo-advisor platform is not only the future, but the present of wealth and asset management. Our Empirica Robo Advisor service stands out in the international market above all through its very high level of support for advisors in their work with the service’s users. All this is thanks to solutions in the field of AI analytics, which allows them to receive a full picture of the actions taken in the user profile and to quickly respond if these actions threaten the assets, which in the end also reduces the risk of losing the customer. Another important element of our consulting service is the fact that we have built it based on the strong foundations of our platform for Algo Trading. Thanks to it, our robo-solution has fully automated access to the data stream coming from the most important financial institutions at every stage of the Empirica Robo Advisor process. – explains Michał Różański.
New generation of users
Platforms from the robo-advisor category not only democratize investment opportunities, but also reduce the price of consultancy services. In an era of technological revolution, a millennial generation is slowly entering the capital market- people accustomed to continuous presence in the online world. Advisory platforms will enable it for them. Friendly user interfaces, notifications that they know from social media and an automated transaction system based on a personalized portfolio are already present in the fintech area. However, in order for these tools to function in such a complicated environment as the financial market, powerful computational engines based on artificial intelligence (AI) must be behind them. Empirica helps financial companies enter this world by providing an advisory platform that automates the asset management processes and is based on innovative solutions in the field of data processing. – adds the CEO of Empirica.
Empirica is a Wrocław-based company that offers services such as an Algorithmic Trade Platform implemented with successes on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, solutions from the category of fully automated advisors (robo-advisory platforms) and software built on the basis of blockchain technology.
Monday June 19th a beautiful sunny day in IT-friendly Wroclaw, tech start-ups and cryptocurrency enthusiast gather together at IT corner Tech meetup, sponsored by Empirica.
The event was planned to focus on key areas of current trends in Blockchain and Ethereum.
The event began with Mr Wojciech Rokosz, Ardeo CEO presentation. The session was dedicated to introduction to the economics of token. Explaining the new changes and updates we are and we will face in our economy with this huge entrance of virtual currencies.
The event later carried on with Mr Marek Kotewicz on introduction to Blockchain, Bitcoin and Ethereum. The session was summarizing the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The third and last part of the event was conducted with Mr Tomek Drwga, Blockchain meetup organizer, diving deeper into smart contracts and programming ( introduction to Solidity) for Ethereum.
The event ended with open discussion between the audience and speakers, and visitors were served with beverages.
Empirica proudly presented the technology for Robo-Advisors; How to build great software behind your Fintech service at Cloud Expo 2017 in Manhattan, New York.
The event was from 6th to 8th of June 2017 at Javits Center in New York City, where panels were hosting star speakers from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. The event was focused on Fintech, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Computing and other hot technology fields and topics. There was a tremendous turn out to Cloud Expo 2017. The event was honored to host speakers and audiences from around the world. Global leaders in technology such as Amazon Web Services, IBM cloud, DEll EMC and financial industry giants like Accenture and Deloitte, together with successful companies and brands around the world , brought the latest trends of technology in one place.
Mr Michal Rozanski, Empirica CEO and board member of EARP Integration used his 35 minutes on stage, introducing new technologies in Robo-Advisory arena. Mr Rozanski, show cased Empirica’s newly built Robo-Advisory platform to express the importance of fine technology in automated wealth management solutions. The speech carried on with Mr Rozanski, explaining the maturity Empirica gained facing challenges during development of a modern Robo-Advisory platform from scratch. The session was concluded with Mr Rozanski give away on informing the essential factors of developing a software behind a Fintech service, and answering the ‘HOW’ for those intending to build such applications.
Moreover, visitors and audiences could meet Empirica representatives at their dedicated booth at Cloud Expo, where they could ask and discuss deeper and in details about the technology behind Fintech services as well as the technology behind Robo-Advisory.
According to Accenture report, “The Global Distribution and Marketing; Consumer Research”, more consumers would welcome Robo-Advice services to manage their banking, insurance and retirement. The survey that included nearly 33,000 consumers in 18 countries and regions revealed that the majority of the consumers are willing to accept exclusive “robo-generated” advice for certain banking, investment and insurance products.
71 percent of respondents to this survey are open to get robo-advice to assist them in the bank account selection. Approximately 78 percent of the consumers surveyed would allow Robo-Advisors to give them investment advices. Finally, nearly 68 percent of the respondents would authorize their retirement planning to be led by Robo-Advisors.
The statistics behind this report expose an astonishing range of recognition and acceptance of these automated advice tools among people.
Plausibly Millennials are the main reason for this vast acceptance, the group that is about to reach their prime spending years. The economy is in their hands and the market will shape around their interests. They are digitally aware and prefer to perform their transactions online; commonly they do trust machines. This digital native generation might not currently have the highest assets among all generations, but the increment rate of their assets is predictably the highest. Though Millennials are not the only fans, surveys show a wider range of acceptance among retirees and general investment believers as well.
Pragmatically speaking, this range of acceptance promises more banks and financial firms to open their doors and to use Robo-Advice tools.
Genuinely the current (traditional) approaches to some of these operations (banking, insurance, et cetera) are not only costly but also rusty. Transparency, unbiasedness, time, are only some of the undeniable advantages of Robo-Advisors over the traditional style. This has fueled many firms already to incorporate this technology in their systems.
Although the common goal for those firms which focus on Robo-Advisors is ‘augmentation’, innovation remains a key separator.
Robo-Advisors introduce new features to continuously fulfill their clients’ needs and to stay ahead of their competitors, for instance in January 2017 Wealthfront reintroduced “Selling Plan”. Selling Plan is an improved and automated process of selling concentrated stocks. It intends to diversify the portfolio more efficiently. Interestingly, the service which usually is available for executive accounts, was made accessible for all users with commission free regime. Moreover, Selling Plan prioritizes selling shares with lower tax rates.
Furthermore in this competition, we have witnessed more use of AI in Robo-Advisors.
Hedgeable’s “tax samurai” called Katana, an AI based tax management service designed for high net worth investors. This smart tax management feature will not execute any selling, unless it is tax efficient. Moreover Katana makes intelligence decision weighting tax efficiency with downside protection. Additionally Katana will automatically harvest losses for optimal tax alpha. Additionally this AI driven tool will provide tax-smart aggregation and tax friendly trading.
In summary one of the largest generation in the history is approaching its investing time; they understand, and they do welcome automation. What is specific to this group is its appreciations of fast and impactful tools, the features that Robo-Advisors use as their slogan. On the other hand there are new technologies introduced by Robo-Advisors and FinTech firms, especially more involvement of AI in order to smarten and shorten procedures. Additionally Robo-Advisors are more and more affordable.
These reasons together convince us of there will be upcoming increase of transformation to this technologies as well as more demand from the investors.
A broad range of innovators are creating solutions using blockchain technology. The most common are active from the ecosystem of cryptocurrencies (and related tools such as wallets). These basically provide a form of retail payments. A variety of blockchain applications across fiscal services are being contemplated, particularly about wholesale payments/correspondent banking, trade finance and other forms of trade banking. In this post, we focus on programs from capital markets and associated activities like post-trade and securities servicing.
A Blockchain based capital markets system:
Agreeing and preventing datasets of financial obligations and ownership forms the simple core of capital markets operations. This generates the continual need to reconcile data with massive systems and procedure copying, leading to high prices and protracted time to perform tasks. Could blockchain be the structural change the marketplace requires?
If we started from a blank sheet of paper now, with accessibility to efficient, well-architecture blockchain technology, we would anticipate the industry structure and processes to seem very different. The listing of each security would be held onto a flat accounting basis – that is, with multiple levels of beneficial ownership in a single ledger. There would be no requirement to run data normalization, reconcile internal systems, or consent exposures and obligations. We would have standardized procedures and solutions, shared benchmark information, standardized processing capabilities (for instance, reconciliations), close real-time data and enhanced understanding of counter party worthiness. For privileged participants such as labs, we’d have transparent data on holdings, among many other improvements. To bring this ideal scenario to life, we put out under a stylized ‘capital markets utopia’ based on blockchains and smart contracts.
Automatically verifying that another has the means to finish the transaction. (by way of example, Client A demonstrably owns the safety on the asset ledger, and Client B demonstrably owns cash on the cash ledger). Client A and Client B collectively ‘sign’ the trade by applying their private keys to unlock their advantage or money, and then by transferring ownership to the recipient via their public key. The signed transaction is broadcast into the dispersed blockchain ledger to be validated and recorded in the next update, along with a simultaneous update to some money ledger used in blockchain.
Actually, securities themselves could be unbundled so that the individual cash flows, and also the rights they encapsulate, might be moved individually. Mandatory occasions and distributions could be handled via smart contracts using blockchain technology, embedded inside the securities. Complex events can be structured as easy Delivery Versus Payment (DVP) trades between investors and issuers.
With horizontal accounting, the numerous custody layers are shrunk to a single function. Presently, a single security may be held in as many as five or six layers of custody (stockbroker, sell-side lender, local custodian, global custodian, CSD, etc.) each with their own accounting viewpoints. Here the advantage is held by means of a type of wallet supplier recording the last beneficial owner.
The utopian set up for derivatives represents the largest change. In the first case, unbundled securities could enable new approaches to financial technology, allowing specialists to construct bespoke instruments consisting of individual cash flows which meet precise needs in terms of timing and credit risk. These tools could be financed by issuers promoting their own instruments that fit the cash flows they expect to achieve, in essence producing swaps without the need for balance sheet intermediation.
Additionally, derivatives with blockchain will be created as preprogrammed smart contracts, catching the duties of both counter parties (for instance, margin agreements or swap requirements).
(CCP) would continue to permit traders to net their exposures. Adding collateral into the CCP in the shape of initial and variation margin could be achieved either by escrowing cash on a money ledger, or by simply devoting funds held on other asset ledgers to some security ledger. Later on, if a central bank problems publicly available digital money on demand, it might allow traders to pledge that the eligible part of their inventory to the central bank and utilize central bank money security when trading.
The smart contract may automatically recompute exposures by referencing agreed external information sources that recalculate version margin. Inter operable derivative and collateral ledgers would automatically allow the contract to call extra collateral units on asset ledgers to encourage these needs. At maturity, a closing net obligation is computed by the smart contract, Along with a payment instruction automatically generated in the cash ledger, closing Out the deal.
The Ethereum platform was originally conceived in November 2013 with the goal of producing a more generalized blockchain platform, combining together the idea of public economic consensus via proof of work (or finally proof of stake) together with the abstraction power of a stateful Turing-complete digital machine so as to permit application developers to much more easily create applications that benefit from the decentralization and safety attributes of blockchains, and especially avoid the need to create a new blockchain for each new program. Sometime past blockchain protocols can be viewed as single purpose tools, such as pocket calculators, or at best multi-function tools like Swiss army knives, Ethereum is your smartphone of blockchains: a universal stage where, whatever you want to build, you can just construct it as an “app”, along with Ethereum consumers will be able to gain from it immediately without downloading some new special applications.
All blockchains have a notion of a history – that the set of all previous transactions and blocks and also the order in which they happened – along with the state – “currently relevant” information that determines whether or not a given transaction is legitimate and what the condition after processing a trade will be. Blockchain protocols also have an idea of a state transition rule: given what the state had been earlier, and given a particular transaction, (I) is the transaction valid, and (ii) what would the state of the transaction?
We can offer an example using Bitcoin . In Bitcoin, the state is the set of account balances (eg. address 39BaMQCphFXyYAvcoGpeKtnptLJ9v6cdFY contains 522.11790015 bitcoins, address 375zAYokrLtBVv6bY47bf2YdJH1EYsgyNR has 375 bitcoins…). The state transition function takes a transaction comprising a sender address, a destination address and a worth and asks: (I) is the trade correctly cryptographically signed by the sender, and (ii) does the sender account contain enough bitcoins to send? If either answer is unfavorable, the trade is invalid and cannot be included in a block, ie. If a block contains a transaction that is invalid under the current state, then that block is blown off from the network2 . If both answers are positive, then the transaction value is subtracted in the sender’s balance and added to that of the receiver.
In Ethereum, the layout is somewhat more complex.The state stores the contract’s code, as well as the contract’s storage, a key-value database.
A transaction in Ethereum specifies (along with other Information which will later be clarified as demanded) a destination address, a number of ether to transact plus a “data” area which theoretically can include any information (and also a sender address, although this is implicit from the touch and therefore isn’t specified explicitly). When a trade is sent to an EOA, or a not-yet-existent accounts, then it only acts as a move of ether, and serves no other function. If a transaction is delivered to a contract, however, the contract’s code runs. This code gets the ability to:
● Read the transaction data.
● Read the quantity of ether sent in the transaction
● Read and write into the contract’s own storage.
● Read environment variables (eg. timestamp, block Difficulty, previous block hashes)
Basically, one can think of a contract as being a kind of “virtual object” stored at the Ethereum country, but one which can maintain its own internal persistent memory, and which has the right to execute the very same sorts of activities and have the very same kinds of connections with other contracts which outside users may. An internal trade is a transaction created by a contract; such as a regular “outside” transaction, in addition, it has an implicit sender, a destination, a quantity of ether, and message information, and if an inner transaction is sent into a contract then that contract’s code runs. Upon exiting execution, the contract’s code gets the ability to return zero or more bytes of data, allowing internal trades to also be utilized to “inquire” other contracts for specific information. A new contract can be created either by a transaction, by placing the arrangement’s code in the transaction data rather than specifying a destination address, or from within of contract code itself via the CREATE opcode.
In simple terms, instead of enforcing one specific set of rules targeted toward one specific program, Ethereum allows users to write apps specifying whatever rules they want, upload the programs to the blockchain, and also the blockchain will translate the rules for them. On the people Ethereum blockchain, this contract mechanism has been used in many ways:
● As “smart contracts” (like issuer-backed assets and ether)
● As registries for an on-blockchain domain name system
● As accounts that represent an individual and business but multisig
● As “software libraries”, allowing code to be written and published to the blockchain once and then used by anyone else
Smart contracts have their own addresses, and so can function as owners of electronic assets in the exact same way that users may; when a contract does “own” digital resources, that implies that (I) just the contract’s code implementing can send the advantage to another party, and (ii) each party that sees and can check the blockchain is aware that the advantage is under this app’s control.
For example, one can implement a trust-free trade of asset A for asset B by having the owner of asset A send the asset into a program whose code is roughly “if I receive asset B within 24 hours, I will send asset A to the sender and send asset B to my creator, otherwise I will return asset A to my creator”. The owner of asset B can see that asset A is under the control of the contract, and so knows that if they send asset B into the contract as well, the contract will execute the trade fairly and correctly. Contracts do not have “owners”; once the original owner of asset A sends the asset into the contract, they no longer have any way to manipulate the contract to get it back, they can only wait for either the trade to succeed and for them to receive asset B or for the trade not to succeed within 24 hours at which point they will automatically get asset A back.
Empirica has announced the development of brokerage solutions for MetaTrader 5. Our company has become the institutional software provider for companies using the advanced multi-asset platform. More brokers actively switching to MetaTrader 5 generate a demand for applications expanding and complementing the platform features, while tech service providers as Empirica strive to satisfy this demand by pushing further the development of the platform and its infrastructure.
“For the last 6 years we have strengthened our market position as leading software partner for financial institutions and FinTech companies. We have developed a very strong algorithmic engine, that has already made one of our customers the fastest market maker on Warsaw Stock Exchange. We are pioneers in developing intelligent robo-technology based on machine learning. Now in cooperation with MetaQuotes we will support brokerage firms and investment companies in MetaTrader server extensions that will meet their specific requirements and needs in relation to the forex market. The customers of MetaQuotes can benefit from our ability to combine the high technical expertise and deep industry knowledge of our team”, — says Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica S.A.
Customers who have already benefited from strong competences and experience of Empirica are Warsaw Stock Exchange, Credit Agricole, brokerage firms and robo advisors like BOS Bank, InvestHelp and Swissborg. Empirica is headquartered in Poland and set up international units in Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland.
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Paper on financial technology software development projects:
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