W-Trade Technologies Inc. of New York said it has developed an Internet-based securities trading system that uses cellular telephones and other wireless devices.
Aiming at the consumer investor market, the company said it hopes to tap the concurrent booms in on-line trading and hand-held data communication devices.
Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass., estimated that the $120 billion currently invested on-line will grow to $496 billion by 2000. Yankee Group of Boston has projected that the 198 million mobile telephone subscribers will grow to 529 million by 2002.
"People want to use the Internet as a primary way to trade securities," said Donna Oliva, chief executive officer of W-Trade, which was formed last year as a spinoff of UNIF/X Inc., a data base software provider to securities firms.
"The prevalence of hand-held devices is making the world smaller," Ms. Oliva added. "Consumers want access to their assets and financial information on world markets, and have the ability to trade all the time."
W-Trade launched its Wireless Internet Trading System with Wall Street Discount Corp., a 21-year-old discount brokerage in New York.
"We were very impressed with the speed, efficiency, and seamlessness of their system," said Alan Lederfeind, chief executive officer of Wall Street Discount.
The brokerage's customers can execute trades for stocks, bonds, options, and mutual funds, receive market news and follow indexes through digital cellular phones or PalmPilot hand-held computers connected to wireless modems.
W-Trade is completing software for two-way pagers and for palm-size computers other than 3Com Corp.'s Palm models that run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system.
"If you are going to compete for the folks who are on the go, you need to reach out to the technology as it comes along," said Mr. Lederfeind, whose brokerage has had 18 customers using W-Trade since spring.
Ms. Oliva declined to reveal whether W-Trade has additional clients, though she said the company was focusing on both discount brokers and banks.
"Most other systems let you get stock information and prices, but this is taking the technology one step further by letting you do a trade," said Phillip Redman, program manager at the Yankee Group. "Getting information is good, but being able to act on it is better. That is one of the most powerful abilities of the wireless medium."
W-Trade's system includes software for both the consumer devices that send trading messages and the computers running in brokerage houses that execute trades.
Consumers using the service maintain a wireless Internet access account offered through AT&T's PocketNet Service. Wall Street Discount decided to cover the $30 monthly service charge for its best customers, but they must pay voice telephone charges.
W-Trade uses technology from Unwired Planet Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., for Internet access from hand-held devices. Unwired Planet was also behind KeyMobile, which Realogic Inc. of Cleveland launched in 1996 for alerting private banking customers to changes in stock prices. The system, since discontinued, required the user to place a voice call to execute a transaction.