Serving the Trader: Designing and Implementing an E-Brokerage Application for Demanding Real-Time Environments

Aristidis Triantafillakis*, Panagiota Papadopoulou*, Panagiotis Kanellis*, Konstantinos Panopoulos**, Nikolaos Sfiris**, Michalis Glezakos***, Drakoulis Martakos*

*University of Athens - Greece - Department of Informatics, **Hitech Consultants S.A., ***University of Piraeus - Greece

With the Athens Stock Exchange General Index up 133% year-to-date, individual investors, who see their investments grow at a rate never seen before in the past, create at the same time a demand for services that securities firms find it hard to meet. Influenced by the success of their overseas counterparts, Greek firms have been evaluating the online trading model as a possible solution to this challenge [1, 2]. However, there are no works that describe how systems that support the new business models and are based on web technologies can be designed and implemented successfully for small to medium-size securities firms who seek to place themselves ahead of the competition. In this paper we describe a case study of a financial application for online trading developed and implemented for E-ShareTrust [1] - a securities firm in Greece, demonstrating how Web-based technology can bring efficiencies to a mid-size financial firm of a scale previously associated with higher cost solutions.
The application described herein was designed as a response to an understanding that existing processes were seen as lacking the efficiency and effectiveness essential for the demanding trading environment that is being shaped at the present moment.
The system comprises mainly of a database server and a web server where the database server is a partial replica of the legacy database. Orders submitted by the customer using simple HTML forms are evaluated by a custom server application, enabled during the stock exchange session, depending on the business rules set by E-ShareTrust. If an order satisfies the business rules, it is automatically accepted and is ready to be transmitted to the stock exchange, otherwise it is rejected. However, there is a ‘neutral’ case where an order is neither accepted nor rejected automatically. In this case, the order remains in the state evaluation in progress and it must be evaluated manually. In addition, orders can be sent to the stock exchange through the firm’s Intranet in case when customers are not familiar with the Web, using a special web application which has a similar interface to the application used over the Internet, but with the exception whereby an order submission can be set to bypass the evaluation procedure. Furthermore, customers are able to watch in real time the progress of their stock orders and to cancel an accepted order that hasn’t been transmitted to the stock exchange yet. The business rules are set by another custom application and they can be changed in real time in order to effect the consequent orders. One other application is a gateway to the legacy application used to transmit the orders. All of the complex transactions, like multiple inserts/updates/deletes, are executed from the RDBMS using Stored Procedures.
For the connectivity issues between the web server and the RDBMS server the Livewire Service of the Netscape Enterprise Server through ODBC is employed. This has a significant advantage over CGI for example, because it
  • Provides native ODBC and multithreading support and
  • Is simple both in design and implementation.

    Web applications are simple HTML files where JavaScript is used for both the client-side and the server-side. JavaScript is compiled into bytecodes and interpreted by the Livewire Pro server extension running in conjunction with the Netscape server, achieving

  • Platform independence
  • Limited requirement of system resources, in contrast with Java applets, in both the client and the server side.
    McEachern and O’Keefe [3] identified a number of advantages that could be termed ‘strategic’ for any organization. These are adapted and depicted in the table below, which also shows the level to which the implementation and consequent use of the system described above has helped the company achieve those.
    The success of the application is further proof that the effective utilization of web technologies and the Internet has the potential to offer advantages to a small to medium-size firm that were previously correlated with large organizations and information systems whose cost was usually a prohibiting factor.
  • [1] Dasgupta, S. (1998). Electronic Contracting in Online Stock Trading Electronic Markets Vol. 8, No. 3., pp.20-22.
  • [2] Buckman, R. (1999). Online Trading Sparks Interest of Goldman. The Wall Street Journal, 22 February.
  • [3] McEachern, T. and O’Keefe, B. (1998). Re-Wiring Business: Uniting Management and the Web Wiley, New York, NY.
    [1] For purposes of anonymity the company will be called thereafter "E-ShareTrust"