Mobile FX Trading
Have you ever tried mobile securities trading? We all have a mobile communication device that has access to the internet but have you ever tried trading with it? I have. I was trading spot FX with Citi FX Pro here in Asia and I wanted to share my experience with you.
The nature of spot FX trading is highly leveraged, high risk, principle based trading. I would call it a retail asset class given the gearing as high as 500:1. With Citi it was no different. Of course I was using their thick client application but with summer here and trading available 24/7 I decided to try the mobile version of FX trading.
There was a login screen and past that the Trading Menu of items which covered most of the features of the thick client. The GUI was very plain as can be expected with any mobile app. With FX trading you just need numbers and any fancy graphics would just hinder performance. Among the Menu items their was of course a Preferences section. It was a bit limited but hey it’s their mobile 1.0 version.
One of the preferences that was neat was that the quotes could be updated in specific time intervals like every 30 seconds. I selected every 5 seconds. A lot can happen in the volatile world of FX and I didn’t want to miss a beat. Unfortunately, it was a drop down menu of acceptable time frames and not a blank field to enter a custom refresh period. If you have ever traded electronically you always see streaming quotes (except for illiquid products where you may need to do a Request For Quote (RFQQ)) but not in the mobile world. Mobile FX trading is a “pull” and not a “push” with respect to the data feed. With my refresh rate now set at 5 seconds I was keen to see the quotes updating as requested.
The quote page was simply the currency pair name with a bid on the left and the ask on the right (They won’t like this in Japan much) and as preferenced was updating every 5 seconds. The quote page wasn’t really well thought out in my opinion. They had a list of several currency pairs and at the bottom of the list was a text menu with items such as Account, Buy, Sell, etc. With a 5 second refresh, by the time I scrolled to the bottom and not so dexterously moved the trackball over the link on the menu item the screen would refresh and reset at the top of the quotes. They could have used a panel view with the menu as one panel and the quotes in another allowing the quotes to refresh and the menu to remain static. Also, the menu should have been at the top and not at the bottom of the screen.
Failing to navigate the menu I was able to click the bid and ask to generate a trade but there was a catch. Once clicked the mobile device needs to access the trading server before moving to the order panel or order screen and it often took more than 5 seconds. That meant I would get another quote refresh on my screen and the request to send an order was superseded by the price feed update. How frustrating.
Once I did succeed in getting an order panel up it would default to a set quantity (1 million USD) and asked how many pips away from the last price should the order be sent. Default was 5 pips. What this means is that when the order ticket was generated it displayed a current price say 1.4000. If you like this price you can send the order and if you are buying you can pay as high as 1.4005. Just to put it in to perspective 5 pips on 1 million USD is $500. That is too much slippage for me. Execution cost is the biggest expense when trading mobile FX and because of it I stopped and went back to click trading in front of the computer.
Of course I could have changed refresh to a longer period but with highly geared trading in volatile markets you can lose your shirt in 5 seconds. Not to single out Citi but only if you are taking a longer term view to FX trading then going mobile is a good solution but for us click traders no thank you.