Chase Manhattan Corp., Citigroup Inc., and Deutsche Bank, the three largest banks in foreign exchange trading, announced Tuesday that they have teamed with Reuters Group PLC and put their collective heft behind a new online foreign-exchange trading marketplace.
The three founding member banks, which represent more than half of all foreign exchange trading, and Reuters have contributed equal, undisclosed investments toward the marketplace, called Atriax, and have signed up 47 other banks to participate.
Available now on the Web site of the London-based marketplace are research, pricing, and delayed currency data. Real-time pricing on 170 currencies provided by Reuters and trading will be available in the second quarter.
"Our goal is to put everything professionals will need into one portal," said Dan Morehead, chief executive officer of Atriax and the former global head of foreign exchange options at Deutsche Bank. "It will make it much more efficient and allow them to spend more time thinking about appropriate strategies."
Initially, traders will be able to request quotes from as many bank members as they desire and then process the trades. In models to be introduced next year, Atriax will charge monthly subscription fees for research and data, as well as transaction fees for trades.
The creation of Atriax draws a new battle line in the online foreign exchange market. Noticeably absent from Atriax are the 13 bank members, including Bank of America, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., and HSBC Holdings PLC, of FX Alliance, a similar marketplace created in June.
Meanwhile, State Street Corp. and Bank of New York are trying to expand their proprietary online foreign exchange platforms to include products from other banks.
Technology companies also are throwing their hats into on- line foreign exchange. Companies including Currenex and CFOWeb have taken the lead in putting together marketplaces that offer exchange services from multiple banks.
Currenex opened for trading in May and now has 25 banks participating. CFOWeb.com launched in June and offers foreign exchange trading through nine bank partners as well as other capital markets products to 2,500 corporate treasures and fund managers.
As the largest marketplace yet announced, Atriax leads in liquidity, said Mr. Morehead, who most recently worked as chief financial officer of Tiger Management LLC. "In any marketplace, liquidity is the only prerequisite, and we have 55% of the current market," he said.
Another advantage of Atriax, Mr. Morehead said, is the strong overlap of clients among the participating banks. "Our 50 banks have similar account lists," he said, "so there is no incentive to hold back valuable clients in worries that competition will take them."
Atriax has signed contracts to build its platform with the software companies Integral Development Corp., Reuters/TIBCO, and Radianz. Integral, which also owns CFOWeb.com, is providing Atriax's multibank quote system and will manage its Web site.
FX Alliance has not yet announced that it has decided which companies will develop its technology platform.