Poland’s Alior Bank, which was established in 2008, has become the first bank to offer a retail FX platform in the country, the Alior Trader. Launched in May, the platform is the bank’s offering for retail foreign exchange clients, created through a partnership with a number of firms, including Barclays Capital, GFT, Integral Development Corp and PFSOFT.
PFSOFT has joined forces with the bank as its software provider with the Pro Trader platform serving as a base for Alior Trader. Integral is providing liquidity and execution services, while Barclays Capital is supplying prime brokerage services. A further 12 banks are providing liquidity including Nomura, Morgan Stanley and the Royal Bank of Scotland, the firm says.
Since launching, Alior says the platform already has around 1000 clients, of which around a third are trading on the platform every day. The platform supports 40 currency pairs, including some exotics; over 200 contracts-for-difference (CFDs); and CFDs for equities and commodities.
Tomasz Wroblewski, head of financial risk management at Alior, says, «The FX offering was not comprehensive in Poland — there was not a single bank providing a trading platform which meant the market relied 100% on voice brokers who could not offer high levels of integration, large distribution networks and marketing capabilities. Also, there were no local ECN-based brokers, therefore the market lacked necessary transparency. Being the first bank to launch an ECN gives us huge competitive advantage.»
In order to differentiate the platform, Alior Trader provides direct access to the banks’ liquidity pool. There are no mark-ups, and the clients are offered a flat fee schedule. It is also the only venue to use the Pro Trader platform from PFSOFT.
Denis Borisovsky, CEO at PFSOFT, says, «We had two other companies interested in exclusive usage of Protrader in Poland but after getting the proposal from Alior, we were excited about their vision and ambition plans. So without any doubts we signed the contract and started working. The first results of cooperation can be seen today, but in the future there will be much more.»
The Alior Trader team is located in the bank’s brokerage office, with 15-20 people dedicated to the offering based in Warsaw and Krakow.
Of the success since inception, Wroblewski says, «We are prominent in innovation and expect to continue increasing client numbers. Alior Trader has been able to attract double the number of clients we planned within only two months. We have extensive plans for development and implementation of new instruments, marketing campaigns and extensive trading capabilities, such as algorithmic trading to the platform.
«Alior Bank is a unique venture — we were a ‘start-up’, and we started operations just a few days after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008,» he continues. «Alior was, and still is the biggest start-up in European banking history with €450 million of investment capital when we opened, employing 1,500 employees before we serviced our first client. We broke even in less than two years (Q3 2010) and generated €13 million net profit in 1H 2011. We are seen as one of the most innovative and successful banks in the Polish market — we have been voted by Newsweek and Forbes the best bank in Poland for the past two years.»
Looking ahead, Alior Trader hopes to enter the forex options space, as well as introduce algorithmic trading capabilities and participation in the Warsaw Stock Exchange to support clients’ trading of equities, futures and other products.
Wroblewski says, «This would make our platform the single access point for brokerage clients, thus providing a unique solution for our clients within the Polish market.»
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