Mobile Spread Betting

As 2016 begins to gather momentum and we head towards a new financial year, it’s time to ask the question of whether this is the year mobile trading finally takes centre stage

Mobile internet use is growing at an amazing rate and is changing consumer expectations. Just think for one moment – 23% of all time spent on the internet is now done on a mobile device. This is a real shift in how people search, trade and interact and mobile is an increasingly important component of the spread betting offering. Already, spread betting providers who have invested in mobile trading platforms are now bearing the fruit of their investment.

“Did you know that the world now has almost as many mobile phone subscriptions as inhabitants? By the end of 2011 there were almost six billion subscriptions – that’s 1 for 86% of the world’s population with China and India accounting for about one billion subscriptions each.”

Inevitably, mobile applications for smartphones and tablets are now taking center stage with the functionality of mobile spread betting apps largely replicating the desktop tools in mobile form. But is the rising popularity of financial spread betting a testament to investors’ willingness to take greater risks in the search for better returns? Or is it the ease with which it’s now possible to trade that has prompted more than a million Brits to open a spread betting account? It’s certainly true that technology is having – and will increasingly have – a massive impact on spread betters. Apps for iPhones, Blackberries and other android devices have freed them from having to be near a computer to make their bets, increasing the opportunities to make regular trades. But there also seems to be a growing readiness among people who are fairly new to spread betting to trade more frequently.

“Mobile is the coming force in the betting industry, and the shift from online to mobile is in some ways more exciting than the shift from telephone trading to online. But mobile trading platforms also need to be reliable with accurate pricing and charts to be au pair with more traditional desktop platforms.”

New technologies are set to fuel the growth of the spread betting industry. As well as fuelling growth within the online sector, advances in technology are set to drive growth within the mobile trading sector too. Add to that today’s highly volatile markets and Eurozone sovereign debt crisis being in control and able to react to market moves is absolutely crucial and can make the different between a profit or a loss. Thus, access to fast trading platforms support your mobile handset – be it iPhone, Android or Blackberry – is quite important.

Arman Tahmassebi, Managing Director at IG noted ‘We want to ensure that all our clients have the ability to monitor markets and place trades whenever it suits them. With mobile dealing now accounting for approximately 15% of all client transactions, this market simply cannot be overlooked.’

Having said that traders who trade on the move are more likely to fall prey to emotional trading. If you have nothing to do and you are continually looking at the trading screen all day long, you are going to be tempted to interfere with trading positions. However, you really need to be disciplined with your trading, and if this means shutting your computer or hiding your iPhone, so be it – just stick to the original stop and profit criteria you had planned, otherwise you’ll end up constantly running losses and limiting profits.

“Use mobile trading sensibly. One pitfall to avoid is trading on impulse because you are seeing prices flashing in the palm of your hand.”

Mobile Trading Revolution

Like every facet of Life, all things must pass. And in no sector is this more apparent than technology, where today’s electronic wizardry of choice will be tomorrow’s has-been in a blink of an eye. Well now it is the time for trading to be put under the microscope, as it’s evident that we’ve reached a crossroads. The old order is fast coming under threat from a new breed, and the young pretender ready to step into its aging shoes.

Specifically it is the world of desktop trading that’s being challenged by its technological offspring: mobile trading. The internet generation has seen desktop trading rule supreme over spread betting and trading account holders, but those days have come to an end. The internet is available too readily from mobile applications for desktops to compete now with convenience and accessibility. It’s time for the new generation to begin.

There’s no doubt that mobile trading exploded onto the spread betting scene in 2010, and that this trend will continue in 2012. There are two significant reasons that explain why the last 20 months have seen the emergence of mobile trading as a viable alternative to desktop trading, and why a continual increase in mobile trading volume on the horizon is not only a certainty but may even occur earlier than is currently expected.

The first is simply the sheer volume of consumers with smart phones in 2011. It goes without saying that the growth of smartphone trading is restricted by those who have smartphones to trade with, but in the present day this is all but a non-factor. The percentage of UK residents with a smartphone is now so high that any arguments that the market isn’t big enough for mobile trading to truly take off won’t hold water. When you consider that any smartphone statistics will be accentuated in a spread betting demographic because traders are generally people with more disposable income than the average person living in Britain, it’s easy to see why companies have been keen to develop mobile trading technology as quickly as possible.

A rapidly increasing volume of smartphones on the market does meant that volumes of mobile trading will inevitably rise, but the predominant reason traders are becoming more and more drawn into the idea of trading whilst on the move is that the concept of trading off a mobile phone being as technologically advanced as a computer, which was once nothing more than a fantasy, is now a very definite reality.

The development of smartphone technology in recent years, particularly the emergence of Google Android technology in challenging the ever improving market leaders iPhone and Blackberry, has meant that the ability to maintain a realistic trading platform is far more viable in 2012 than it was just a few years ago. Consumer confidence in mobile trading applications will always be paramount because of the sums of money that can be made or lost in trades; a platform that isn’t up to doing the job of processing trades correctly will never survive in the marketplace because any gap in technology will inevitably have a negative effect on trading performance. Desktop trading online has advanced to the point where even the most amateur of traders can operate them effciently without any trepidation that the platform will let them down as key moments. If any platform can’t meet that standard of excellence it won’t survive in the competitive world of spread betting regardless of whether it’s desktop or mobile. And when you’re a relatively new product trying to challenge the established order that point becomes even more significant. If the clientele aren’t convinced that a mobile trading platform can do the job of its desktop counterpart, the idea’s a non-starter.

As soon as smartphone technology had the capability of running a powerful enough internet for a platform to be viable, development began on producing a mobile trading device comparable to desktop trading. The first company with a product ready for the rapidly expanding iPhone market was City Index, who launched the first spread betting and contracts for difference app in October 2009. The app, called City Trading, proved an instant success with spread bettors. Mobile trading, which accounted for just 2% of total trade volume before the release of the app, jumped instantly and now currently stands at over 20%. The astronomic increase in the number of trades taking place is even more noticeable in new account holders trading after the introduction of the app. The app allows the traders to deposit and run every facet of their account through their mobile phone, meaning that a proportion of traders who have been spread betting clients for less than 17 months have never traded on a desktop computer.

The easily predictable success of City Trader confirmed what many had believed for some time, that industry evolution through technological advance would funnel traders away from their desktops towards mobile technology in much the same way as the development of the internet moved trading away from the telephones and onto computers. A host of other spread betting applications emerged from other companies for iPhones over the course of 2010, with each looking to replicate the standard of service of their desktop equivalent. The concept grew further, the technology improved, and the trade volumes across the board continued to rise.

“Over a third of CMC Market’s active clients use the iPhone app every day”, a spokesperson for CMC said when asked about current mobile trading volumes; a clear indication that the trend is much more than a temporary phase.

City Index continues to lead the pack in terms of product development, and again has made the first jump into a new market area by launching a mobile trading platform for the Google Android phone in December 2010. The application has live streaming charts with multiple technical indicators allowing clients to undertake market research and make trades directly from a phone, much like the more common iPhone application. Likewise, IG also offers top class mobile platforms with clients being able to check trading positions irrespective of the market volatility and knowing that they can quickly react to changing market conditions by being able to monitor and close positions instantly.

And there is no reason or argument to suggest that the evolution of trading further towards mobile based products will slow down any time soon. Whilst it is true that a proportion of established traders may not be convinced that mobile trading is a trustworthy, secure and ultimately profitable method of trading moving forward, for those with an open mind to the possibilities created by technological advance the transition to more mobile trading will be a smoother one. For those new to spread betting there will be no transition at all.

When comparing the two trading platforms (mobile and desktop) it’s clear where the future lies. Desktop’s strength is in the capability and speed of its technology, the amount of information it can provide the user with instant access to and the security of its established status as a platform of trust for the user. Mobile trading can, and is, closing all of those gaps at an increasing speed. Where mobile trading holds its advantages are in convenience, adaptability to lifestyle and ease of access to a spread betting account wherever you are in the world and at whatever time of day. So long as a phone can connect to the mobile internet network (be it 3G or wireless internet) a mobile trading platform is active in your pocket. No amount of product development on desktop spread betting platforms can close this gap. It is only a matter of time before desktop trading platforms have no technological advantage over mobile trading whatsoever. Of course desktop computer technology will continue to advance, but whether this will translate into continually improving trading platforms that will offer more to traders than they will be able to get from the one on their phone is less clear.

So where does that leave us moving forward? Well, whether you’ve decided that mobile trading is already the way to go and only access your account via your mobile, occasionally trade via your mobile when circumstances dictate that you have to or are yet to be convinced that “trading on the run” is something you want to get involved in, the truth is that everyone holding a spread betting account with a company that has a mobile trading platform will have considered at one point or another whether to trade from a platform, meaning that growth in the area will continue until the market is satisfied. Spread betting companies have large mobile technology teams whose chief task is to deliver cutting edge and innovative mobile solutions for clients who want them. “The last 18 months have very much been about giving clients access to trade on their mobiles”, is the view of City Index.

And not only are the mobile trading platforms continuing to improve in terms of providing the tools and range of functions that are accessible from a desktop trading platform, the hardware from which they run also continues to develop. In many ways the mobile trading market is reactionary to the technology market, as nothing can be developed by spread betting companies that would ever be comparable to desktop trading if there were no devices on which to use them, but this is currently not an issue. The iPad allows those averse to concentrating on such a small screen for periods of time to mobile trade on something bigger, and the improvement in Java and Windows phone technology will open the smartphone market up even further to mobile trading platform development.

The latest version of Apple’s iPad, for instance boasts a 9.7 inch screen, while Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) comes with a 10.1 inch screen. The Asus Google Nexus 7 on the other hand sports a 7-inch screen. Such devices provide multi-touch capability and great functionality allowing for a good user experience. In addition, a limited number of Apple, Android and Blackberry trading applications are already on the market, but this is expected to rise significantly in 2013 meaning that an even greater percentage of spread bettors will have access to mobile trading. And there’s plenty more to come after that, but unfortunately such is the importance of mobile trading to spread betting companies that shrouds of secrecy prevent us from revealing them just yet. Let’s just say that there’s a long way to go before mobile trading development is exhausted.

So what does this mean for desktop trading? Well, perhaps our predictions of its downfall at the beginning of this article were a little far-fetched, and certainly more than a little premature. However, even the briefest exploration into how much time, effort and resources are going into mobile trading application development is a clear indication that mobile trading is a significant part of spread betting future, even if it isn’t all of it. The average trading app today already provides sufficient information information for the average trader managing his own portfolio. And with new young traders increasingly preferring to trade and analyse markets on the move and having the technological know-how to use mobile trading applications quickly and effciently, it wouldn’t surprise many in the industry if trading volumes on mobile trading platforms exceeded 50% in the near future. The barriers to access to on the move trading are falling at an incredible rate whilst the percentage of the population with smartphones continues to rise, so our conclusion is this: don’t sleep on mobile trading, give it a chance. The future’s smart, and the future of trading is smartphones.