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E*Trade Accelerates Mobile Trading

Upgrading from a basic WAP app to a thick client helped drive a 139 percent increase in daily average revenue trades.

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How can Wall Street firms offer fast, full-featured mobile applications when they have no control over the performance of local wireless network carrier performance or over mobile device operating systems? E*Trade Financial has been using software from Vaultus to overcome the performance limitations of mobile devices and wireless networks.

According to Vaultus, its solution accelerates mobile applications by 50 percent through the use of data compression and network optimization technology. Although E*Trade doesn't share data transmission numbers, the firm reports that between August and October of last year, following the deployment of the Vaultus technology, daily average revenue trades (the number of trades from which a broker can expect to generate revenue through commissions or fees on any given day) using the brokerage's mobile system increased 139 percent.

E*Trade has long offered mobile access to its Web site through a wireless application protocol (WAP) interface that allows anyone with a cell phone or PDA to pull quotes and initiate trades. Last summer the online brokerage took its mobile initiatives a step further. "Our focus is on making sure that whatever platform our customers want to interact with us via -- whether it's phone, desktop computer, the Internet, a mobile phone -- that experience is as easy, intuitive and user-friendly as possible," says Tina Martineau, a senior director with E*Trade.

To deliver on that mission, E*Trade introduced on July 1 a BlackBerry application built by Vaultus that is comprised of plug-ins from existing trading applications. "The goal was to give customers many of the same interface, security and banking features available to them via e-trade.com from their desktops," Martineau says. "We also provided real-time information and the ability to transact with brokerage accounts any time via their BlackBerrys."

Customers connect to the E*Trade/Vaultus Mobile Pro platform via direct TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connection (most experts agree that TCP/IP enables a faster and more secure connection to Internet services than WAP); the Mobile Pro platform then connects to the servers that power E*Trade's Web services and streaming quotes, Martineau explains. E*Trade opted to use a downloaded thick client application for the mobile service to provide additional security capabilities and a richer, more responsive end-user experience, she adds.

E*Trade installed Vaultus' Mobility Server technology inside its network behind the firewall, Martineau relates, adding that the online brokerage's back-end systems were tweaked in order to integrate with the middleware solution.

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