In last year’s Sell-Side Technology Awards, this category was won by Copenhagen-based Saxo Bank for its mobile trading platform. This year, however, it is London-based Caplin Systems in the winners’ circle, thanks to the implementation of its mobile multi-asset investment platform at Siam Commercial Bank Securities (SCBS). According to John Ashworth, CEO of Caplin, there were a number of challenges associated with the project. “The bank already had quite a sophisticated retail app doing simple things like current account management and straightforward payments,” he says. “It had its own very strict brand identity. The first challenge was to make sure that this new sophisticated application was consistent with that and maintained the same sort of standards and positive impressions in the market.”
Ashworth says there are significant benefits to be gained from people physically being on-site during roll-outs. At any given point during the SCBS project, Caplin had between five and 10 staff members on the ground in Bangkok. But he also concedes that some classic mistakes were made. Conference calls weren’t always easy to organize, he says, and the cultural differences were similarly challenging. “As we have gone through this process, twin factors of distance and culture reminded us of the importance of rigor around checking on requirements and design approval with senior management,” he says.
On the technology front, the bank relied on legacy systems to handle its traditional bonds and funds businesses. To Ashworth, establishing inter-application connectivity and linking them to a mobile application that provides a professional level of experience to a retail-type user is an exciting software challenge. Caplin plans to add equities and derivatives support in the coming months.
Half of Caplin’s business is around working with customers in the foreign-exchange markets. It currently has projects in disparate locations including Scandinavia, South Africa, Singapore and the US. He says that in the capital markets, in addition to the sophisticated retail sector, there are still concerns about using mobile versions of trading applications. According to Ashworth, mobile was traditionally used in the capital markets primarily for administrative processes. So, for example, mobile applications would reduce the number of sales people confirming order notifications, settlement dates, or amending orders with clients. “Most of the early mobile use-cases were in marketing and administrative savings,” he says. “Now we are at a point where those barriers are definitely coming down and we are seeing a lot more widespread adoption.”
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