In response to the growing number of wireless devices equipped to handle m-commerce, Dublin, Ireland-based Macalla Software will release its latest version of Mobility, a software product that provides financial applications and market data to WAP and other wireless devices, by the end of third quarter. Among other functions, Mobility allows investors to access account information, trade securities or check market quotes anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. The coming version will add more application services and functions for bankers and brokers and their wireless customers such as a Universal Messaging Engine with delivery to SMS and e-mail as well as support for WAP 1.2, GPRS, i-mode/cHTML and wireless PKI.
Niall O'Cleirigh, CEO of Macalla, says that there has been strong demand for Mobility from financial institutions wishing to take advantage of the growing market for wireless transactions and distribution of information. He also emphasizes the advantages of using the software. "Say you're accessing an electronic broking system from your work desk," he says. "When you move away from that desk, you would like to ensure that you can access the same caliber of application and information using the appropriate channel that you have ... it will display the important subset of that desktop application."
According to O'Cleirigh, Mobility's effectiveness stems from a Java-based system using XML at its core. Macalla designed the software with a distributed component-based architecture that can run all on one machine, but more typically is distributed across several servers according to its function. While one set of servers may interface with a firm's market data providers or legacy systems, another converts the data to XML and another connects with the wireless or Web provider to receive requests and controls the output to the wireless device.
Specifically, the core of the XML-based system consists of a number of modules, including an XML Document Broker, which uses Java Beans to "route the XML-based flow of information from the devices back to the end sources of information," O'Cleirigh says.
At the same time, a library of Java Server Page (JSP) templates dictate the general framework in which information will be displayed on each page such as standard login, transaction history or stock portfolio pages, he said. Another component, the Content Management Engine, which is a Java component running on the Web application server, tailors the application or data for the device that's displaying it, whether it is a Web browser, a WAP phone or a PDA. Due to XML's architecture, this engine is able to convert the information into the appropriate markup language, whether it's HTML for browsers, WML for WAP phones or even VoXML for some newer phones.
O'Cleirigh says that Macalla would work with an Application Service Provider to maintain and provide firms with the software for them to run Mobility as an extension of their existing systems. Since it's a Java-based system, it can run on any platform that supports Java.
Dresdner Kleinwort Benson first implemented Mobility in December, after testing the software during the second half of 1999. Al-Noor Ramji, Global CIO at Dresdner, says several hundred of its institutional investors, including mostly buy-side fund managers, have been using Mobility to view the status of trades, enter indications of interest and evaluate their portfolios.
"We think the execution business will pick up rapidly, but I think, given, our client base, which is entirely big institutions, mainly they're doing executions through an execution desk or a trading desk," Ramji says. "I think the managers are more interested in how risks are changing and how markets are moving."
Currently, Dresdner clients can use Mobility via a Palm Pilot, Nokia Navigator or a WAP phone, and Ramji noted that the next release of Mobility will allow Dresdner to supply capabilities for users' Pocket PC's.