Reuters Delivers IM For Financial Services

Reuters Messaging service will integrate with the news agency's existing financial-services products
Reuters is bringing its considerable muscle to instant messaging in financial services with a service it's launching on Oct. 14. With its Reuters Messaging, developed in conjunction with Microsoft and 30 financial-services companies, the news agency aims to provide a secure IM tool where messages can be logged that will help financial-services companies meet any future Securities and Exchange Commission requirements regarding the archiving of IM exchanges. More than 12,000 financial-services professionals had registered for the service prior to the public launch, and Reuters executives expect to have 175,000 registered users by year's end.

The offering integrates with Reuters' numerous existing financial-services tools--most notably its 3000 Xtra desktop suite--to let users instantly share technical analysis, financial news and information, and links to financial tools. Reuters has been looking closely at IM since 1999, when it learned of the underlying "presence awareness"--the ability to detect a person's online status--and determined that it would revolutionize the use of applications, says chief technology officer Mike Sayers. Reuters Messaging has been in development for two years, and it's available free to any financial services professional. "The value is in the community, so it's certainly in our best interest to build the widest possible community," Sayers said in explaining why Reuters isn't charging for the service.

Reuters Messaging employs Secure Sockets Layer encryption on outgoing messages, which are then routed to a Reuters server for authentication before delivery to the recipient. The Reuters server also logs all messages for future access. One way the product leverages presence awareness is to intelligently deliver messages based on availability. Thus, if a message is sent to a group, any members of the group who are offline or have made themselves unavailable will automatically receive the message as an E-mail instead.

IT managers welcome tools such as Reuters Messaging, but they're not likely to stop using the free consumer IM clients like AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, said Beth Cannon, CTO at Thomas Weisel Partners. Many of Thomas Weisel's institutional clients use the consumer IM apps, and they're unlikely to change, Cannon said. The firm also uses technology from Facetime Communications so that it can log interactions in the consumer IM apps, so compliance with an expected archiving ruling from the SEC isn't an issue.

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