Mobile Computing in the Financial Industry: The Perfect Storm

There has been an abundant amount of articles published recently about the trend toward mobile computing. The drivers for this have been primarily the phenomenal adoption rate of products such as the Apple iPad. But the iPad is not the only reason for fueling this trend. A “perfect storm” has been brewing for some time now that melds together several technology growth trends.

Trend #1 Adoption Rate of Mobile Devices

Adoption Rate of Mobile Devices

First and foremost driving these trends is, of course, the head spinning adoption rate of Apple’s wonderful breakthrough product. Sales of the recent release of the 3rd generation iPad were off the charts.

While most analysts, such as Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, were expecting Apple to sell between 1 million and 2 million of its new iPad on its launch weekend, the actual sales numbers reported by Apple easily exceeded those projections and the company announced that it had sold 3 million units in its opening weekend.

Consumers are giddy about getting their hands on these devices and who can blame them. With over 500,000 apps in the Apple store alone, consumers are sure to stumble across several that will quickly become part of their normal daily routine and will wonder how they ever lived without it.

This trend has been very prominent in the financial industry. Barron recently published their 2012 Ranking of Online Brokers titled “Cutting the Cord”. The report highlighted the new iPad apps rolled out recently by TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, e*Trade.

The report quoted statistics from TD Ameritrade showing that the mobile device usage on its platform has more than doubled in each of the past two years. There was also the interesting stat from OptionsHouse that over 15% of the firm’s client activities now are now on mobile apps.

Trend #2: Growth of Next Generation Wireless Networks

A Deloitte research report published last month shows that the United States is the world leader in mobile broadband innovation. It is the national market with the most 3G subscribers. American companies excel at developing new mobile Total Mobile Network Data Trafficbroadband devices and services for domestic and foreign markets. The report also states that the world is now at the start of the 4G era as U.S. carriers are just now embarking on the widespread deployment of 4G networks.

The European and Asian markets lag the US in 4G deployment. European wireless network operators’ reticence to jump on the 4G bandwagon has been due to the large investments they had to make in 3G auctions a decade ago but will move towards 4G or risk falling behind the US.

China is two to three years behind the US according to Miao Wei, China’s head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

A recent CNN Money report cited statistics from Washington think tank NDN. The questions asked was what’s the difference between 3G and 4G? The answer that came back was about 1.6 million jobs. That’s the math according to NDN on the effects of U.S. wireless carriers’ transition to next-generation networks will have on job creation.

The NDN research paper went on to say that the growth of 4G networks will lead to job creation in a wide array of industries.

Smartphone and tablet makers will ramp up production of 4G phones which will lead to wireless networks employing more workers to build and service this new infrastructure. Software developers will write applications that can take advantage of the added capacity and speed of 4G networks.

Trend #3: Adoption of HTML5

Today, a new mobile app is likely to be a native app. Firms looking to distribute this app to the widest possible audience must gear up to support iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry. The operational costs of supporting an app written to run natively on these platforms will quickly become cost prohibitive to all except the largest companies. Needless to say, this will surely stifle innovation. The answer and remedy developers have been patiently waiting is HTML5.

A recently published whitepaper written by our CEO, Paul Caplin, talks about the uncertainty we see going on in the world these days. But in the world of software at least, one thing looks like a safe bet: in 2012, HTML5 will emerge as the world’s favorite GUI technology and, in particular, the tool of choice for building Web trading applications.

This trend, taken together with the first two, has created this perfect storm and will continue to fuel growth in mobility.

One Response

  1. Excellent post Jose. Very timely as well what with today’s article in Euromoney FX (JPMorgan’s sacred FX cow on the move) where Jes Staley is quoted as saying: “As far as JPMorgan is concerned, the future is in mobile trading, and it intends to be at the forefront of it.” Link to full article (subscribers only):

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