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“Mobile-based technologies will be the next wave in trading sector”

Trivikram Kamath, Head – Technology, Operations & Finance, Kotak Securities, speaks to KTP Radhika about the company's IT infrastructure and how it is adopting new technologies to stay ahead of the curve

 


Can you tell us about the role of information technology in Kotak Securities' day to day operations?

We believe technology and business are partners and should mutually drive each other. Therefore, IT is an integral part of our business. We introduced a risk management system to pre-check client orders when most others did post-trade. Introduction of the Security Key for our online customers not only provided security but also reduced hassles of remembering and changing multiple passwords. We commenced our mobile initiatives even before regulations allowing the same were passed. It enabled us to be one of the first few to launch a mobile application.

Kotak Securities shares a common, state-of-the-art data center with Kotak Group at Mumbai. The data center houses all servers and is also the hub for all network connectivity. The IT infrastructure covers networking of 200 branches with thousands of trading terminals connecting three exchanges covering multiple segments. The data centre also houses hundreds of servers running various applications, operating systems and databases covering front, mid and back office applications. It also supports over 3500 employees across the country. In addition to our own terminals, we have more than 400 authorised persons, sub-broker offices with multiple trading terminals for connecting to exchanges. Most of our broking-related applications are built in-house. So we also have a large team of employees and vendor staff to cater to these requirements.

How has trading evolved from offline to online and now to mobile?

M-trading is a natural extension of the same with next generation handsets having larger screens, more efficient operating systems and processors. With the advent of these handsets at affordable prices and 3G mobile networks, convenience and self-service is being taken to new levels. It is easy to check the price of a scrip and place an order for a buy or a sell while on the move. Larger screens provide an opportunity to disseminate even more information, including charts and graphs.

We are encouraged by the interest shown by users in our application and the volumes traded through it. The challenge lies in providing a solution that will work uniformly across various handsets and operating systems. iPad and tablets provide an opportunity to utilitse big screens effectively. We believe there will be a significant increase in mobile trading volumes as we move ahead.

 

So, how is Kotak tapping the opportunity in M –trading?

Kotak has its own M-trading platform that supports almost all handsets and operating systems. We have crossed over 400,000 downloads of the application. Our application provides multiple market watchlists, graphs, stock quotes, order placement, research tips and virtually everything that is available on the online platform. It is thus a seamless extension of the online platform and provides a great amount of mobility for the customer. We also have a guest facility for those who are not our customers. Many of these people opt to sign up as customers over a period of time on using the application. So, the mobile platform also acts as a customer acquisition channel. We are encouraged by trading volumes through our mobile platform and believe that traded volumes through this platform are bound to increase.

 

How will Cloud computing and virtualisation influence the trading market?

Cloud computing and virtualisation provide a great deal of flexibility to any IT team. It also saves cost as one does not invest in a technology or specific hardware. Gone are the days where a broker merely executed an order. Today, there is a host of information being provided including historical data, research, portfolio tracking, graphics, algorithmic trading, social media interactions, etc. which all require high amount of computing power. Cloud computing and virtualisation make this process possible and easy. Servers with required operating system and computing power can be made available on the fly. It would attract more brokers to provide value added services, changing the face of the broking and trading community.

 

What will be the next technological wave that will make a major impact on the trading sector?

Mobile platform itself is at a nascent stage and this will logically extend to other hand-held devices and tablets. There will also be an integration of specialised services – while the broker focuses on trading, there will be other service providers who will cater to ancillary and value-added services. Stable 3G and 4G networks at affordable prices will transform some hand-held devices into powerful computing and front end devices.

The move of digitising cable and other DTH services will offer another channel and addressable device leading to true convergence in trading sector. Internet penetration,growth in bandwidth and speed with stability will provide an opportunity for the broking industry to provide more information and services. All the above elements will be woven together by the evolving dynamics of social media.

 

What will be your IT strategy for the future?

Kotak focuses a lot on deployments that are necessitated due to regulatory requirements or changes in regulations and those which help the external customer. We want to remain market leaders by using new and emerging technologies effectively for the business and our customers.

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