Symphony has acquired Markit’s cloud-based collaboration technology

Symphony has acquired Markit’s cloud-based collaboration technology

Symphony Communications, a financial industry messaging service provider, has acquired a rival service provided by Markit, a financial data management provider. The move may bolster Symphony’s ability to rival more entrenched, expensive cloud-based chat services used by financial institutions.

Markit, which was co-founded by eight large banks, and went public this year launched the cloud-based messaging service last year. It links financial services firms and their customers, offering them a secure platform to exchange information and financial data, and at the time of its launch was pitched as a way of removing barriers to cross-market communicationbecause it can exist alongside but does not require expensive proprietary terminals or software equivalents – like those offered by Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters.

Underpinning the messaging service Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, which is known to many as Jabber, the core technology behind Microsoft Lync among other popular enterprise cloud-based collaboration services.

The deal will see Symphony, which was founded by a Goldman Sachs-led consortium of 13 industry partners and financial institutions in 2012, take ownership of Markit’s collaboration services technology assets.

The company operates a rival open source communication and workflow platform that links financial services firms with customers.

Symphony said Markit’s technology will provide a secure directory for managing financial services industry contacts, with Symphony looking to populate the directory with pre-vetted users and companies to create a highly secure professional network for the financial services sector, a kind of mashup of Microsoft Lync and LinkedIn for financial services professionals.

“We are pleased to now offer our customers the ability to connect and collaborate with a network of validated industry professionals within Symphony’s secure messaging and workflow platform,” says David Gurle, chief executive officer of Symphony.

Gurle founded Perzo, the core messaging technology underpinning Symphony, but he also served as global head of collaboration services at Thomson Reuters and before that worked on Skype for enterprise at Microsoft.

“The integration of these two highly complementary services sets us apart from other enterprise collaboration and messaging platforms by providing secure, seamless communication that connects users with their community. As Symphony expands, we plan to look for similar opportunities to continue to bring value to our clients in a range of industries,” Gurle said.

Brad Levy, managing director and head of Markit’s processing business said the company was pleased with some of the “firsts” Markit was able to achieve in the financial services collaboration and messaging area.

“Symphony will help realise our vision that opens networks will fundamentally change how people work and communicate in our industry, by combining our respective collaboration assets,” Levy said.

With Symphony and Markit now consolidating their collaboration services it will be interesting to see to what extent the combined effort will challenge rival services offered by the likes of Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg, whose dominance and costly services have long been the source of complaints from financial services institutions.

As well as the expense, IM/chat services are quite controversial, having been singled out as one of the methods used by dodgy traders collaborating in some of the recent trading scandals, such as the Libor rate-fixing. One reason for Goldman’s involvement in Symphony is seen by outsiders as trying to control trader communication for compliance reasons – it has been widely reported that Goldman’s and others have looked at banning IM altogether.

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