Sucheta Dalal :Battle for online trading platforms heats up
Sucheta Dalal

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Battle for online trading platforms heats up   

January 19, 2010

The race for providing online trading platforms is gathering pace. Brokerage houses are doing all they can to woo traders to trade more with lots of bells and whistles. A few weeks ago, ICICIdirect launched its new online trading platform ‘TradeRacer’. Today, Geojit BNP Paribas, one of the leading retail stock brokers in India, launched its enhanced online trading platform ‘FLIP’ (Financial Investment Platform). The launch was carried out by Ravi Narain, chief executive officer and managing director of the National Stock Exchange (NSE). 

The platform is available free of cost for its existing customers while brokerage charges remain the same at 0.3% for a delivery. FLIP is already available in stock exchanges of Saudi Arabia and Oman. Developed by Geojit Technologies (P) Ltd, a subsidiary of Geojit BNP Paribas, ‘FLIP’ provides features similar to ICICIdirect’s TradeRacer like alerts, research reports, intra-day charts, technical analysis, third party news, customised interface and a mobile edition called FLIP-Me. Both mobile integration options are available through low bandwidth GPRS-enabled mobile phones. Where FLIP scores is in its tie-up with eight banks, whose customers can access the platform.
ICICIdirect does not allow any customer other than its own account-holders (in ICICI Bank) to trade in its online trading platform. In both the platforms, investors can arbitrage which provide multiple watch-lists. ICICIdirect’s ‘TradeRacer’ was initially available only to its sub-brokers. Now it is open to all customers after registration.

FLIP integrates with the risk management system offering financial instruments such as equities, derivatives (stock and currency), margin funding, mutual fund units and IPOs. FLIP also provides online fund transfer through multiple bank payment gateways in addition to RTGS/NEFT. FLIP uses FIX adapter to connect to multiple markets to serve different client categories including institutions, retail investors, traders and HNIs.

“We are confident that following the launch of FLIP, we will be able to add significant numbers to our expanding online client base comprising retail, domestic and NRI clients. Today, we have over 500,000 plus clients executing over 300,000 trades daily,” said AP Kurian, chairman, Geojit BNP Paribas.  The entity has a strong presence in Gulf countries like Bahrain and Oman.

Geojit hopes that online trading platform volumes will catch up as Internet penetration increases in India. Further, once mobile trading is approved by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), traders are likely to spend more time on their mobile phones. Currently 400 million people use mobile phones while there are 8 million investors in India. Market commentators expect that top retail brokerages will come out with platforms that compete with Geojit and ICICIdirect. The question is, how big is the market for traders? —  Ravi Samalad

-- Sucheta Dalal