Bourse trading on-line

Foreign exchange transactions are now just a click away.
Stiff competition and shrinking margins, partially due to the introduction of the Euro, have pushed banks to look at the internet when it comes to reducing costly paperwork, manual labor, and minimizing overheads. Furthermore, in a world where minutes can make the difference between a good and bad margin, customers are demanding speedy, efficient and transparent delivery. 

Standard Chartered in Hong Kong has launched a browser-based on-line dealing system, which will allow straight end-to-end processing of transactions on a real-time basis. Treasury On-line will allow corporate customers to transact a number of both spot and forward foreign exchanges in less than 30 seconds. And the bank boasts that in only 3 seconds, a ôliveö price can be quoted for over 700 currency pairs. Treasury On-line made its debut in Singapore last year, but has had a slow run. Stanley Wong, regional treasurer, for North East Asia at Standard Chartered admits that Asian business culture has inhibited the take off of the site.

ôThe Asian market is still concerned about security, and although many are getting more receptive to new technology, many corporates are more comfortable operating in the old economy,ö he says.

While relatively new in Asia, Deutsche Bank and Chase among others have already launched on-line dealing systems in Europe. And it is not just banks offering this service. The soon-to-be-launched aims to bring CFOs, treasurers, and fund managers together with an international network of best-of-breed banks, consultants, dealers and independent service providers onto the on-line non-interbank trading marketplace.

Web site members will be able to ômanage their portfolios, and also their risk and trade financial products" all via a standard web browser, says Harpal Sandhu, president and CEO of Integral Development,'s parent company. So far, Bank of America, Standard Chartered and ABN Amro have signed up to this portal.

Such interest in the non-interbank market leads to the question, when will banks expand their inter-bank trade onto the internet? Wong is cautious, but sees a good opportunity for expansion into the local financial institution market.

ôA possible expansion of the On-line Treasury is to the local financial institutions of the Asian market. With a more stable foreign exchange market and stiff competition, the margins of foreign exchange transactions have been squeezed, making it difficult for financial institutions to compete with the large international banks who are able to compensate for the lower margin with volume.ö

Standard Chartered claims that it is the first bank in Hong Kong to offer this service to its customers -but you can bet that many others will be following hot on their heels.

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