The rapid rise of the information age has disrupted the functioning of traditional institutions. Internet connectivity, mobile devices, and information access have become an omnipresent fixture. It is hard to believe that the world was so sparsely connected just a few decades ago. Older institutions such as education, broadcasting, finance, etc. are structured in orthodox ways, and their processes are not designed to handle the innovative disruptions of the 21st century.
The old behemoths in the world of financial data and analysis are not immune to disruptive technology. Ambitious startups have their sights set on competing with companies such as Bloomberg and wish to place the power of accurate information and quick alerts in the hands (and smartphones) of investors. Currently Bloomberg offers a terminal for data access and alerts that costs US$24,000 per year. The powerful service at its core is basically charging users for access to data which has been sourced from third parties and a bunch of tools (also from third parties) that are used to analyze said data; it places an excess of 30,000 functions at the user's fingertips.
In this age of open source Big Data tools and free information, this approach and the product seem like an anomaly, even a bit anachronistic. The Bloomberg terminal is a single price, single product and the company makes billions of dollars every year from this. However, it is an absurd limitation of an essential service, most users only end up using a small number of the functions offered. The accelerating unbundling is likely to affect the financial data and analysis sector as fintech startups get more aggressive.
Conversely, these entrepreneurs do not face an easy task to say the least, Bloomberg has a lot of strong factors on its side, including decades of experience, strong financial networks, and mission critical capability, But as we have seen time and again, innovations have unpredictable effects. It would be a tall order indeed to try and build a replacement for the terminal, but that doesn't mean there is a lack of opportunities for fintechs to exploit. An easier route might be to target some of the niche services offered by the terminal. Startups have a better chance if they try to work below or around the terminal services.
A fintech startup based in Singapore, called Call Levels has created a mobile app that helps investors track their investments and alerts them of any changes in the market. Think of it as a Bloomberg terminal that fits in your pocket, and is offers all the functions that an average investor needs to make financial decisions. The app has a great alert system that lets the user know whenever market trends change.
Every investor knows the value of accurate data delivered on time. It helps you track US equities, forex, futures, and even bitcoin if cryptocurrency is your thing. The app was shortlisted in the Best Fintech App category by Apps World.
This app has attracted a lot of buzz and a lot of investment, according to the co-founder, Cynthia Siantar, the backers include some big names that have been a part for the financial industry for decades. The app founders credit the flexibility of the app for its success, and no doubt the features it offers are brilliant. It offers free real-time price alerts, even includes social media integration.
The founders recently announced a $500,000 pre-series A round from 500 Startups Asia and several other established Fintech investors. After the success in Asia, the team behind the app plans to expand into key financial locations around the world and have their sights set on Hong Kong, London and New York.
Call Levels is available on the Google Play Store and on iTunes.
It seems that the walled gardens dominating this industry are slowly starting to crumble. As evidenced by the increasing popularity of financial communities such as Quantopian, SumZero and some such as ThinkNum advocate a sharing of financial models (think of it as a Github for financial models), the market for Call Levels is ripe and the demand seen so far is more than encouraging. This is good news for the average investor and the market at large, as better access to data and analytical/visualization tools will enable users to customize and control their investment portfolios.