WFIC 2017: Ballintrae Flips BERRD to Free As Basis for New Services

Changing BERRD’s commercial model is the first in a series of moves that include new service suites and potential acquisitions, Ballintrae’s CEO tells Joanne Faulkner

John Mattingley Ballintrae

UK-based market data consultancy Ballintrae has redesigned its Ballintrae Exchange Rules and Regulations Database (BERRD), and will release it free of charge to the market on Oct. 2.

Created in 2010, BERRD collects the data rules and policies from 166 exchanges to provide a repository of exchanges’ market data policies, with validated summaries of those policies, to enable banks, asset managers and other institutional investment firms to manage their exchange contracts. The new version, dubbed Free BERRD, took around six months to develop, and has been redesigned to improve the way the vendor presents data to users.

Ballintrae says the biggest improvements are to BERRD’s search and filtering functions, making it easier for clients to search for separate items about an exchange—such as products, prices and licensing fees—and to compare products and prices from different exchanges simultaneously. This makes it easier for users to reformat the information for their own purposes, publish it into other document formats, and access “as much information as possible as quickly as possible,” officials say. Ballintrae will continue to add new functionality to the platform over the coming months, particularly around  data visualization, including adding historical data from exchanges so users can see how their exchange spend has evolved.

The vendor hopes to quickly reach 1,000 rollouts out of Free BERRD, out of an addressable market of 5,000 potential users, ranging from top 10 banks all the way down to CFD spread betters, says Ballintrae chief executive John Mattingley.

By giving away BERRD for free, Mattingley hopes to make the market aware of its other services to prevent financial institutions over-consuming data they do not have the correct licenses for.

“People are using data that they’re not paying for. It’s a consequence of the rise in the use of applications that use data, driven by automated trading and the rise in the use of middleware. Developers in banks who are under pressure to build applications tend not take notice of whether they should or shouldn’t be paying for this data. The application goes into production and then nobody looks at the problem again,” Mattingley says. And whereas in the past exchanges may have been happy if auditors found a “sliver” of over-use where they could recoup lost revenues, they now increasingly rely on data revenues and are becoming more aggressive in policing misuse, he adds.

The vendor will launch two services: Component Utility and B-cloud—stage two and three of Ballintrae’s ‘horizon’ strategy “to automate market data management in general on behalf of the industry.” The Component Utility will be a web portal encompassing: Free BERRD; BMAP, a tool that tracks users by mapping data flows and reference data across an organization; and inventory management and reporting services. Ballintrae will either acquire or build these tools itself.

“We’ll provide a single portal for a market data manager or team to be able to handle every single aspect of market data management,” Mattingley says. The vendor aims to get the Component Utility built and into production during the first or second quarter next year, and is one-third of the way towards its goal, and “way down the line” in talks with third parties about providing the other two-thirds, he adds.

B-cloud will be a cloud-based portal through which banks can “upload new applications into our cloud and have those apps guaranteed to be compliant. We police the onward dissemination of any data—all of those things you would expect to have if you were a bank running that on your own site,” though the function would move initially to an offsite basis, and ultimately to an industry private cloud, Mattingley says. 

Ballintrae is trying to acquire one or two “platform companies” to build the cloud itself. “For B-cloud to work, it needs to be global, otherwise the banks won’t get value from its existence. Both these companies have extensive worldwide networks and capability, in all the financial centers that we would need. One of them has a lot of technology that we would need in order to make B-cloud work…. It would give us about 95 percent of what we need in order to do B-cloud. We could then go beyond B-cloud in terms of market data management and start to move towards an ‘investment bank in a box,’” he says.

Another important step in creating B-cloud is to form a consortium – initially consisting of six banks and four exchanges – to help shape how the portal will look and be governed. “B-cloud has to be owned by the industry, and it has to be governed and run by a definitively neutral organisation, which is what we’ve ended up being,” Mattingley says.

The vendor also wants to “bring in expertise from the banks that will sit alongside our guys who are designing what… the technical and commercial coexistence between B-cloud, a bank and an exchange will look like. We’re not going to replace big data vendors like Reuters, and we’re not going to disintermediate any of the commercial relationships the banks have… but we do have to look at the commercial relationship between the consortium and the consortium investors as customers.”

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