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8 Major Banks Join Instant Messaging Initiative

Markit is powering the new industrywide federated IM platform with Thomson Reuters' backing. Where does this leave Bloomberg?

With instant messaging capabilities proliferating the financial services enterprise, many users are tired of fragmented communication networks that can't share information with users on a different platform. Today, Markit is launching a federated messaging service that allows allows users to see availability, send instant messages, use video and chat rooms, and exchange documents across disparate messaging platforms.

The new messaging platform, called Markit Collaboration Services, is backed by Thomson Reuters and eight other major financial institutions, including BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

In comparison to the cost of the financial industry's other established instant messaging community, currently on the Bloomberg Professional platform, Markit Collaboration Services is a steal. Bloomberg Instant Messaging, or Instant Bloomberg (IB), is the most most popular instant messaging platform, but only comes as part of the Bloomberg Professional platform. Users reportedly pay approximately $20,000 per year for access to the Bloomberg Professional platform. In comparison, Markit Collaboration Services will be offered free of charge.

"This is confirmation of the much rumored collaboration that has been going on across the industry," says Peter Moss, managing director, trading, financial and risk at Thomson Reuters, in an interview. "We have been doing work with Markit and other banks to connect the networks that could not previously talk to each other."

Thomson Reuters is a founding member of the network and will federate its instant messaging tool, Thomson Reuters Eikon Messenger, with the network. Thomson Reuters Eikon Messenger was built using open-based standards to offer a secure, federated messaging system that facilitates collaboration across the financial markets. It already connects to other messaging platforms such as AOL and Yahoo!.

Markit Collaboration Services, with Thomson Reuters Eikon Messager's user base of 200,000 and the financial institution's employee base of over one million users, creates a massive network that will compete with Bloomberg's instant messaging service. Currently, Bloomberg Professional has an estimated user base of over 315,000.

[For more on how Thomson Reuters has been expanding access to Eikon Messenger, read: 1,300 FXall Customers Get Access to Eikon Messenger.]

However, Bloomberg users are fiercely loyal to their "terminals" and the IB service is already part of most user's workflows. Over the years, competitors have had trouble dislodging users from the Bloomberg Professional terminal because the product is so tightly integrated with many financial organization's other systems, including trading, research and portfolio management applications.

Federating messaging platforms allows institutions to offer the benefits of a cross-industry collaboration network to employees throughout their enterprise.The federation service is powered by NextPlane, a provider of cloud-based unified communications (UC) federation services for business communities.

"When people come into the office, they don’t just want to use the phone," Moss adds. "They want to use messaging. The industry has been getting frustrated wit hall of the islands of connectivity where people can't communicate with each other."

The new network also provides the first open directory for the financial services industry, enabling people to find, communicate and collaborate with one another. The messaging and directory services can be embedded in third party applications, workflows and other networks, extending the functionality of trading, processing, research and other applications, according to Markit.

Thomson Reuters Eikon Messenger (formerly Thomson Reuters Messenger) is an enterprise-level instant messaging tool designed for the financial markets. It is open to all financial markets professionals, regardless of the desktop they use, and available either via Thomson Reuters Eikon or as a standalone instant message tool. It allows financial professionals around the world to participate in a community consisting of customers, colleagues and business counterparties.

So, will the new Markit Collaboration Services offering be enough to move users off of Bloomberg IB? Let us know in the comments below. Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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