TradeStation is launching an all-new online TradingApp Store that will bring hundreds of ideas, trading tools and analytics from outside software developers to brokerage customers using its technology platform.
There was an earlier incarnation of the TradingApp store that dealt exclusively with trading strategies, according to John Roberts, COO at TradeStation. “We’ve evolved the concept beyond strategies to what we call the TradingApp Store,” said Roberts.
Through the its TradingApp Store, the multi-asset brokerage firm catering to active traders, will provide clients with access to more ideas, strategies, technology and custom trading solutions that they can download to the TradeStation platform.
Currently, TradeStation’s online marketplace offers more than 650 products, including strategies, indicators, analysis techniques and other tools. It draws on the contributions of more than 250 independent third-party developer-traders to create an endless virtual marketplace that continuously adds products, the company said.
“What’s incredibly groundbreaking is these are really apps similar to what you’d find on the iPhone or Android,” said Frank Fernandez, head of the TradeStation TradingApp Store business project. “Someone could develop an application that sits side-by-side with the Tradestation [desktop] apps,” said Fernandez. “It’s not simply expanding our charts. It’s a side-by-side product with its own user-interface, look and feel and it’s own presentation,” he added.
At present, the trading apps can be downloaded directly from the online marketplace and run on the downloadable desktop app. The long-range plan is to run the apps on the web and mobile devices as well.
Just as the Apple iPhone App Store has opened up opportunities for small developers to commercialize their apps, TradeStation wants to tap a broader talent pool.
“Every firm in the trader space has been beating themselves up for years to envision, create and deliver what they think it is what the traders want most. The sea change that TradingApp Store represents is the pool of creative thinkers who are coming up with ways to improve or tailor trading is now as big as the world of developers out there,” said Roberts. “It transforms the experience and if that’s what people want to use, they can use that,” he said.
The concept going forward is to become “platform agnostic,” said Fernandez. “We want to be the TradingApp store where people choose the apps they need and make ‘the TradeStation for me,’ as opposed to trying to guess what people want,” he aid.
Fernandez suggested the concept of a technology company with a brokerage firm having a store and a marketplace where people can build applications is “disruptive.” TradeStation is not the first to use the Apple iPhone App Store concept to tap outside developers.In November of 2012, Bloomberg LP launched the Bloomberg App Portal for institutions, allowing developers at software companies, universities and other places to distribute their applications for use along with the Bloomberg Professional Service. Also, FXCM, an online foreign exchange broker runs an open-source app store. However, TradeStation is the first retail broker in the multi-asset trading space to have its own app store, according to Fernandez. One issue that TradeStation protects is the deliver’s intellectual property. “At no point do the users get the source code. We deal with the delivery and security of the product,” said Fernandez.
TradeStation offers the developers 100 percent control over the process, without having to share a fee. It’s a subscription-based model where the users pay a monthly fee, which gives people flexibility to try a new app. Looking at the store, a large number of the apps offer free trials, said Roberts. Often users get a free trial initially before they need to subscribe to an indicator for $50 a month.
Acquired by Monex Group, a leading online Japanese brokerage firm, a little more than two-and-a-half years ago, TradeStation has a global customer base. About 10 percent of the business comes from overseas.
TradeStation TradingApp Store is available to all U.S. and European customers who have a TradeStation account. Sixty percent of the developers come from overseas and are among its most successful. It has attracted some well-known industry figures in stock analysis, such as Larry Williams, Mark Chaikin, John Persons and John Bollinger.
The TradingApp Store sits on top of the Tradestation infrastructure and desktop, which provides fast data and fast execution along with 50 years of historical data to back test strategies, said Roberts. It covers US equities and options, U.S. futures along with FX, offering fast market data and executions along with 50 years of historical data to back test strategies.. “Anybody who has a TradeStation account from any of those markets, has access to the apps and the full functionality of the apps to trade our markets,” said Roberts.
The TradingApp Store has been in a testing and beta phase since the 2012, but it was mainly for strategies. Gradually, it was expanded to include indicators and as of October 2013, the full trading app functionality was added. “Whether it’s a chart or some other window, now you’re going to have a full featured application, visualize the market in new ways and manage your accounts and even optimize portfolios,” said Roberts. All of those capabilities are built into Easy Language, a pseudo-programming language that makes it easy for any traders to express their ideas, build strategies around these apps an d test them.
Now that the full functionality of TradingApp Store is out there, TradeStation will start a marketing push this weekend at the New York Traders Expo.