Tag Archives: alternative trading system

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What’s Next? A Blockchain-Powered ATS for Equities

“What’s Next? Well, for those familiar with Patrick Byrne, the controversial and innovative founder of Overstock.com, one of the first online retailers to embrace the use of bitcoins, it should not be a surprise that Overstock’s chief honcho would ‘get the joke’ and realize its all about the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrency applications, known as distributed ledger. While bitcoin currency continues to encounter challenges in terms of mass embracement, the real grease that makes the makes the wheels turn is under the hood. With that, Overstock subsidiary “T0” (T-zero) is taking a page from both the industry consortium formed by R3 and the Senahill-backed Symbiont –both of which target institutional capital markets usage–and aiming it’s own sights on retail investors by setting to launch an equities-centric Alternative Trading System aka ATS powered by their own blockchain formula.

A distributed ledger is a consensus of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiple sites, countries, and/or institutions.
A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, comprised of unchangable, digitally recorded data in packages called blocks.
Rob Daly of MarketsMedia (not related to MarketsMuse) provides the scoop..

Online retailer Overstock.com expects trading to begin on its blockchain-based alternative trading system before the end of the year, according to company officials.

The ATS will be operated by Overstock.com subsidiary TO as part of the company’s Medici Project, and it will only handle trades in the company stock, at least at first. So while it’s not an immediate competitive threat to the existing field of 13 U.S. stock exchanges plus several dozen ATSs, the initiative will be closely watched as a gauge of the potential of distributed-ledger technology in capital markets.

The ATS will write completed trades to its blockchain instead of routing them to the National Securities Clearing Corp., a subsidiary of Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., for clearing.

Overstock.com plans to prime the liquidity on the ATS through a new issue of corporate shares to existing shareholders the day before trading commences on the new trading venue.

judd bagley blockchain ATS
Judd Bagley

T0 officials plan to formally announce its partnership with a broker-dealer on Sept. 12. “For those who want to trade on the ATS, they will have to create an account with the broker-dealer,” said Overstock’s man-in-charge Judd Bagley, who declined to name the brokerage firm.

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Investors will be able to select from multiple “very vanilla” order types, which are still in development, he added. T0 may use a so-called maker-taker rebate model to encourage liquidity, but officials have not made a final decision.

The new trading venue is a mix of internally developed technology and the technology T0 acquired with its purchase of order-routing firm SpeedRoute in October 2015. T0 built its matching engine internally as well as the necessary interfaces to the rest of the U.S. equity marketplace.

The company, in conjunction with Bay-area consultancy PeerNova, also developed a proprietary blockchain architecture for the ATS instead of using Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple.

To continue reading the story from MarketsMedia, please click here

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e-Bond ATS “OpenBondX” Promotes Maker-Taker Rebates

Start-up corporate bond trading system OpenBondX is hoping to pull a rabbit out of its hat and jump start activity by emulating what the universe of equities-centric electronic exchanges and ATS platforms do in order to attract order flow to their respective venues: pay broker-dealers for orders given to them buy customers (retail and institutional) and offer a Chinese menu of kickbacks for those who ‘make’ liquidity and those who ‘take’ liquidity, otherwise known as maker-taker rebates.

Before dissecting the proposal by OpenBondX, which is open to buy-siders and sell-siders alike, for those following the ongoing discussions with regard to maker-taker rebates offered by exchanges and the assortment of ATS (alternative trading systems), you already know that the topic has increasingly become a big issue with regulators and buy-side investment managers, who are somehow just beginning to understand the implications within the context of fiduciary obligations and the ever-evolving definition of ‘best execution.’

That said, electronifying the corporate bond market so that buyers and sellers can transact in the secondary market in a way similar to how equities are traded has been a holy grail quest going back more than 20 years, starting with a platform known as “BondNet”, which started its life in 1995 as an inter-dealer-broker (IDB) system and soon thereafter, was acquired by Bank of New York Mellon, with the vision to roll out the platform as an ATS and invite institutional corporate bond traders to have direct access to the dealer market place.  When that acquisition, along with BNY’s strategy was announced the biggest banks on Wall Street, along with many of the nearly 90 regional BDs subscribing to that platform put BondNet in the penalty box and pulled the plug on the computers to protest BNY “disintermediating” the relationships those banks and brokers had with the buy-side firms, and more importantly to punish BNY for even contemplating that buy-siders should be able to see wholesale pricing that was available only within the inter-dealer marketplace.

The challenges encountered by the close on 40 different initiatives, 98% of which have failed within 12 months of their respective launch are a matter of historical record. Other than cultural and political issues, the most important obstacles can be found in the fact that “bonds are sold and stocks are bought.” Meaning: institutional investors rely on sell-side institutional sales people to sell them on a particular bond,  simply because buy-side portfolio managers don’t have the time or resources to filter through the many thousands of bonds that have been floated and now trade in the secondary market, each with different terms and conditions, different structures, different ratings and assortment of other criteria that goes into calculating the ingredients for a corporate bond portfolio.

The other big item that has been lost on the assortment of “Wall Street electronic trading veterans” and the many entrepreneurs who have attempted to create a robust and liquid electronic trading market for bonds is the simple fact that buy-side managers are most often interested in being on the same side of a trade as their peers; they don’t tend to take each other out of positions. Which is where Wall Street dealer desks had, until the past few years, always played an integral role. Alas, tose big banks have been legislated out of the market-making business courtesy of post financial crisis regs that prohibit banks from holding any significant inventories that can be sold to buy-siders, and hence, they are not able to purchase any significant amounts from institutions unless they have a buyer for those bonds in hand.  Today, 98% of corporate bonds are held by institutional investors and the notion of creating a system by which they could trade among each other is still a pipe dream that has passed along from one generation of electronifiers to the next. But, OpenBondX thinks they can be different. Here’s the news release issued this week:

OpenBondX Electronic Trading Platform Rolls Out New Rebate/Fee Structure For Fixed-Income Trading

Recently-launched electronic bond-trading venue OpenBondX, LLC (www.openbondx.com) is implementing an innovative pricing strategy that previously has helped transform other markets.

Alistair-Brown-openbondx
Alistair Brown, CEO OpenBondX

A twist on the “Maker-taker” rebate pricing model that propelled the successful electronification of markets in other asset classes, OpenBondX (OBX) will incentivize initiators of order flow with rebates that are built into the trade’s settlement.  Dealers whose streaming prices result in executed trades on OpenBondX are also eligible for rebates.

Currently live with high-yield and investment-grade U.S. corporate bonds, the OBX Alternative Trading System (ATS) now offers the following rebate/fee structure for liquidity providers and seekers:

  • Order initiators of an RFFQ® (Request for Firm Quote®) will be rebated 2 basis points of the notional value per trade (or $200 per million).
  • Order responders will be charged only 2.5 basis points of the notional value per trade (or $250 per million).
  • Post trade, the rebate or fee is applied to the net settlement value, i.e., the initiators’ cost is adjusted by the rebate of $200 per million dollars and the responders’ cost is adjusted by the fee of $250 per million dollars.
  • No additional ticket, transactional or monthly terminal access fees are incurred. This is less than half the typical pricing at electronic venues.
  • As OpenBondX is an “all-to-all” platform (open to both buy- and sell-side traders), any subscriber can earn rebates by initiating an RFFQ.  And access to the platform is free for all.

Buyside Block Trading Venue Luminex Readies Launch

As if there were not enough electronic trading platforms,  the buyside remains determined to have their own equities trading platform open only to buy-side block trading peers. MarketsMuse Tech Talk Editors tip our hats to FierceFinanceIT.com  for the following update re  Luminex Trading & Analytics, the ATS block trading venue backed by a consortium of large asset managers, which recently announced an updated management team in preparation for the venue’s Q4 launch.

The new management team in place is led by Jonathan Clark, former managing director and head of U.S. equities trading a BlackRock, who will serve as Luminex Trading’s CEO. Clark replaces interim CEO Michael Cashel, who will return to his position as SVP of Fidelity Trading Ventures. Plans for Clark to take over as permanent CEO were previously announced, and as of Tuesday he has officially begun the role.

Plans to build the Luminex Trading venue, which is backed by nine leading investment managers that collectively manage approximately 40 percent of U.S. fund assets, were first announced in January.

The venue will be a buy-side only block trading platform “open to any investment manager primarily focused on the long term and with the desire to trade large blocks of stock with other investment managers,” according to an earlier announcement from the company. The nine investment managers in the consortium backing Luminex are BNY Mellon, BlackRock, Capital Group, Fidelity Investments, Invesco, JPMorgan Asset Management, MFS Investment Management, State Street Global Advisors and T. Rowe Price.

David Hagen, Luminex
David Hagen, Luminex

Luminex Trading announced four other members of the management team this week. Brian Williamson will be head of sales, tasked with further building the client base. Williamson was previously senior global relationship manager with Liquidnet. James Dolan is chief compliance officer, joining the company from Fidelity, where he was previously vice president of compliance for Fidelity Institutional. David Hagen will head product development as Luminex Trading’s new head of product. He was previously director at Pico Quantitative Trading. David Consigli is the company’s new controller, joining from IDB Bank.

Luminex says its platform will offer investment managers lower-cost and more efficient block trading, with transparent trading rules and protocols.

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Finra, Fixed Income and FinTech—Fixing What Folks Keep Saying is Broken

MarketsMuse blog update profiles a proposal from FINRA which proposes pre-trade transparency for fixed income automatic trading systems operators. This update is courtesy of  Traders Magazines’ article, “A Step Closer to a Fixed-Income NBBO” with an excerpt from the article below.

A modest proposal made by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) aims to have fixed-income alternative trading system (ATS) operators to submit a weekly report that contains all of their quotation data for TRACE-eligible corporate and agency debt-securities to the regulator.

Such data would help FINRA better surveil the growing electronic fixed-income market, especially retail trades, according Robert Colby, the chief legal officer at FINRA.

“We would love to have this information,” he said when speaking the Investment Company Institute’s capital markets conference. “We do not get them now, so we are not super familiar with it. We’ve gotten it in batches at times but are not familiar with it enough to know how to work it into our surveillance system, which is our primary line of interest.”

FINRA officials declined to comment on the proposal further citing that it was still out for comment at press time.

According to the proposal’s text, FINRA would not disseminate the ATS-provided data publicly and use it solely for regulatory and surveillance purposes. However the text also states that FINRA may analyze the data for “the potential value and feasibility of public dissemination in the future.”

To read the entire article from Traders Magazine, click here.