The Island ECN, which has traditionally been available only through a dedicated line or a proprietary application-programming interface (API), will soon be accessible via an Internet front-end. Dubbed Inlet, the Island front-end is currently in beta tests at several sites and is expected to be in full production mode in the next couple of months, says Jack Vensel, vice president of sales at Island.
Inlet will allow subscribers to access the Island book and enter trades directly from the Island subscriber Web site, immediately after the user's account has been activated. "There are a couple of reasons that people might want to use this," explains Vensel. "One might be if they don't have the technical inclination or expertise to write to the Island interface, or perhaps they don't currently or don't anticipate doing enough volume to actually support the dedicated line, which is about $800 a month." The Inlet access will be offered free-of-charge to users-- a group that includes smaller broker/dealers and firms with multiple locations.
"It may also be a tool that we could use to introduce institutions to Island as a very easy way for them to try it out," says Vensel. He adds that Island is set to begin marketing the Island ECN to the broker/dealer and institutional crowd sometime in the third quarter. While these subscribers would most likely prefer a dedicated line connection, the Inlet application could be a way for them to start out with the ECN. "You can't discount the immediacy or the ease or the low cost of doing this over the Web," explains Vensel.
While the Inlet application is still in beta, Vensel says that there has already been significant interest in the front-end, including interest from clients who want to use it to access Island from exchange floors. "It's in beta right now and we're getting trades through it, and so far it's been great. But we want to make sure that we do it right and we don't want to put out a product with bugs or a product that we can't support," says Vensel.