I have two hats when it comes to business and at times they’ve coincided. I am a salesperson at heart! That is who I am at my core. The rest is fluff. As part of that I was introduced to the world of forex when it was still in the beginning of expanding from an institutional market to a retail market. I grew up with this business. I saw it go from semi-institutionalized where setting up a white label would cost you 25K and opening an account a minimum of 2500 USD if really you looked far and wide to a white label costing 5K and opening an account can be done for 100 USD.
Seeing this change has been exciting and finding where the best place for me to be at each stage of these changes has been really interesting. I have been an IB to brokers, an IB to fund managers, I’ve hired and trained sales teams and I’ve also provided brokers with leads. I love this industry except for the few days I hate it, as any good relationship goes I’m told. I still work with sales teams and leads. Though I’ve changed the way I work to be in the trenches just for the build up and then to take a broader look and work in an advisory role.
Q | What is the back story to your company?
When I do something, I like doing it big. If I’m going to be like everyone else it doesn’t interest me. Not because I don’t think it’s meaningful work
but because I’m so lazy I prefer to be very efficient in my work so I can go back to the beach, the sailboat and the birds. Why do I say this. I have been offered partnerships in brokerage firms and various other businesses in the industry, but my thought always was that it’s not what I truly want to do. Knowing that this industry is always looking for the next big thing, I kept my eyes and ears open and my brain working for new ideas. I saw the industry try to renew itself with binary options and I’ll admit that was very successful.
Some time ago I heard about lottery platforms – I did have an interest in that but due to certain experiences I had had in the past, it would have been closure for me. As an aside, due to various connections in Africa and Dubai, I have always been close to certain diamantaires though it is not something I actively participate in. But the world was known to me. I loved the fact that in this day and age where you can sign something digitally for someone halfway around the world and do everything without ever meeting with anyone face to face, this was one gigantic industry that not only still did business old-school style but did it based on a handshake a short phrase in Yiddish. As someone who values loyalty above all else, the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars were being traded purely on a handshake was something I wanted to be a part of one way or another.
One day, almost a year ago, I was introduced to the Singapore Diamond Exchange. They were doing something new. They were asking their members to display their inventory on the exchange so that other sellers/ buyers could see and buy/ sell with them via the platform they had built. The diamond industry was making a huge leap forward! I was asked if I could somehow connect such a platform to FX brokers. This was the turning point. I made a list of what the challenges were in connecting such a platform to retail FX brokers and I realized that I could solve all of these challenges. That was the beginning of Live Rates Feeds.
Q | What makes this so different and why should I want this?
Right now, if you want to trade diamonds online, you have to sign up with a specific platform for diamonds whether integrated with an exchange
(which usually requires you to be an accredited investor, not something the typical FX retail client is) or not, and buy and sell actual diamonds. So 1) the liquidity is very limited 2) you have to understand the difference between all of the different types of diamonds to know which you should buy 3) you have to sign up with an additional platform.
With us, the price feed is integrated into already existing platforms, we have created an easy index for diamonds and have a few more under development, so this will grow. Since this is a derivative you are speculating on the price movement, meaning the volatility and volume can very easily grow compared to having to trade in the specific physical commodity and this also means it is much easier to learn the price movements of one index compared to learning about each different type of diamond.
Q | Can you give us the back story on the diamond market as you interpret it?
As I mentioned in a previous question, the diamond market is very much old-school. Additionally, it’s an oligopoly. The reason for that is because of the eternal phrase “A diamond is forever” for which we can thank DeBeers. For something to be a good tradable commodity there has to be a secondary market created by people reselling what they bought. But here’s the catch. A diamond is forever means that your love is forever, that’s brilliant marketing since who in their right mind will try to resell the diamond they bought as a symbol of eternal love when they first got together with their spouse. You are allowed to buy more diamonds but you can never resell them, unless you want to sleep on the couch for the rest of your life.
So what has changed? The economy is changing. People are looking to alternative investments for their wealth preservation. Bitcoin is a digital currency created fairly recently which many people use as an alternative investment to their cash savings. Some wealthier folks purchase and store actual gold bars so that even in the event of a worldwide banking collapse they still have those gold bars. Precious stones have always been an easy way to transport huge wealth easily from one place to another since a small stone can have a very high value and can be resold anywhere. Until now this was only used by the uber wealthy however, in recent years there’s been a small movement of regular people looking to invest in precious stones not for the sake of love but for the sake of wealth. This small movement which has been growing in size is what’s given us the beginnings of a secondary market.
Q | Who is your target market?
I would love to say that starting from day one we intend to target the major players and exchanges. But it wouldn’t be smart. The volume has to be built up from the ground. Retail traders have to start trading and everything needs to move forward and up from there. So at first, we are targeting the retail brokers and their traders. We intend to spend a fair amount of time targeting this market to make sure we have a strong and stable base of trading volume. After we have that, I’ll sail around to the major player’s offices and get us in there too.
Q | How easy is this to implement to the brokerage?
A So so so easy. From day one I told my tech guy that I’d rather he work hard than the clients. Not because I’m a nice guy but because if it’s not easy to implement, no matter how great the product is it just won’t be implemented. We are in discussions with bridge providers which will make it a question of point and click for most brokers to be able to add this to their feed. As far as other platforms, it takes some hours of manpower but we built it in such a way that it easily and reliable connects to any financial trading platform.
Ludovic Vuillier – CEO Live Rates Feeds