November 22nd 1999 | Vol 10 No 46




Joshua Levy -- Executive Director Matchbook FX, New York


Joshua Levy began his FX career in 1990. After a stint at the Bank of Montreal, he became a senior spot and forward dealer at Goldman Sachs in New York and later Tokyo. Since leaving early this year, he has helped set up Matchbook FX, a new internet-based FX trading service, which was launched globally on October 19 this year.


What is your biggest challenge as an FX provider?


The biggest challenge facing Matchbook as an internet-based service would be software efficiency factors such as software development, design, speed and timeliness of market data. In addition, we are striving to make research, commentary and analysis available to the market at large and to provide the overall package to both the institutional and non-institutional market.


How is the internet changing the way that the FX market operates?


The internet is changing the FX market significantly. The execution speed of deals is quicker, as is the speed of messaging and transfer of information. Pre-internet, dealing was done by telephoning your counterparties and getting four or five different prices. The internet provides a more open and efficient means of operating -- without it, a service like Matchbook FX wouldn't be possible. The internet also provides a level playing field in the FX markets, in terms of bringing the market directly to consumers and providing a more efficient, cheaper and safer way to trade. Clearly there can be problems, but the technology will only get better as time goes by.


What is the most important aspect of your day to-day-job?


At the moment it would be handling all the new account requests! However, my day-to-day job involves making sure everything is running smoothly and working well, from the front end to the back office. In addition, it is important for me to interface with our clients, to gauge feedback, and to liase with the programmers, developers and marketers. We are a 30-strong team now, and growing fast.


What are volumes like on the Matchbook FX system?


It's too early to determine as the system has not been globally available for an extended period of time. However, we have several thousand users on the demo system. We are keeping people on the demo trading platform for around two to four weeks to allow them to become familiar with the Matchbook FX dealing platform, before we open their account. This is important, especially for people who haven't dealt in FX markets before, and will mitigate the errors and system-use risks. Eventually, however, we anticipate volumes to rival EBS. We are opening a lot of accounts.


In five years time, what do you think the FX market will look like?


I guess I have a slightly biased opinion, given the career path I've chosen -- ie: leaving interbank FX trading to enter the online world. The internet is on the verge of exploding in FX terms. With global tensions subsiding and more companies, particularly in the euro area, willing to conduct international business and undertake cross border transactions, FX trading has a lot to offer. The FX market is the largest, most liquid market in the world. It's 24 hours, global, and there is no artificial market manipulation that can be seen in other markets like equities and futures. Although the fundamental analysis functions will remain the same, I see conventional interbank FX dealing and trading shrinking, and the internet growing as a tool in the markets.