Web Brokerages Push Smart Phones' Trading Capabilities
Sisk, Michael, American Banker
Byline: Michael Sisk
Apple Inc.'s popular iPhone has become a widely used mobile banking tool, but online brokerages may be pushing smart phone technology even further with trading services.
E-Trade Financial Corp. and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. have both rolled out mobile trading applications - first for Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry devices and then for the iPhone - that some analysts say are the most advanced financial services currently available for phones.
Smart phones, particularly Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry, have been a corporate staple for most of the decade and are now taking off with consumers.
"Among domestic consumers there's a conversation taking place around how to incorporate smart phones into daily life," said Matthew Bienfang, a senior research director in brokerage and wealth management at TowerGroup, an independent research unit of MasterCard Inc.
According to Kelsey Group Inc., a market research firm in Princeton, N.J., smart phones or data devices now make up 19% of the U.S. consumer mobile market, and 50% of people the firm surveyed in October of last year said they intended to buy a smart device in the next two years.
Analysts saidthis trend makes E-Trade's introduction of a free mobile trading application, Mobile Pro, timely. The BlackBerry version came out last year and an iPhone version was released in May.
"Last year the BlackBerry clearly had the largest amount of demand in the smart phone space," said Paul Vienick, a senior vice president of product management at E-Trade. "But in the last year we realized that while the BlackBerry is still important, the iPhone has become very popular."
The Mobile Pro application for the BlackBerry recorded 2 million logins from its July 2008 launch to May 2009. In the first quarter of this year logins jumped nearly 30%, according to TowerGroup.
The Mobile Pro application for the iPhone was the mostdownloaded application in the financial section of Apple's App Store for iPhone applications for several weeks after its introduction and has consistently been in the top five since then, Vienick said.
The Mobile Pro features for the iPhone are similar to those for the BlackBerry. Both include access to bank and brokerage account details; charting and watch-list capabilities; free real-time streaming stock and option quotes; the ability to trade stocks and options, including conditional orders; transfers of funds between brokerage and bank accounts, including deposits not held at E-Trade; and live portfolio updates. …