Gulf emerges between online and voice brokered forex trading, says Greenwich

A sharp divide exists between clients actively trading on electronic platforms and those that do not trade foreign exchange online, according to new research from US-based consultancy Greenwich Associates.

While growth among existing users has doubled electronic forex volumes to $8 trillion in 2003, almost one-half of clients still say they do not intend to trade electronically, says the Greenwich research.

For those trading online, 43% of their total foreign exchange trades by volume are now transacted electronically, compared with 32% in 2002.

But the percentage of institutions saying they planned to start trading electronically fell from 20% in 2002 to 14% in 2003. Those with no plans to start trading electronic forex remained nearly flat, dropping from 48% in 2002 to 46% in 2003.

"While the growth we’re witnessing is impressive, eventually there comes a point at which electronic forex service providers are going to have to crack that second group if they are to continue this pace," said Andrew Awad, a Greenwich consultant.

Some 69% of non-online traders said they did not trade electronically because there is 'no need’.

There were significant regional variations. In the US, 16% of institutions said security was a problem, while 60% of Asian electronic forex holdouts cited it as a concern. A greater issue in the US was that trading online might interrupt the growing practice of using foreign exchange as a reward to banks for credit.

In Japan, 28% of respondents said the inflexibility of error correction was a barrier to trading online.

One surprising outcome of the survey, which covered 1,200 global forex clients in November 2003, was the discovery that single-dealer platforms are still going strong in the face of competition from multi-dealer sites. Greenwich said this is because they often offer multiple products.

Neither are multi-bank portals necessarily losing out: FXall now boasts trading relationships with one-third of the market, Greenwich said.

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