Singapore-based Broctagon is a fast-growing technology provider that merges traditional finance with the innovations of blockchain technology, offering complete forex solutions, end-to-end blockchain services, deep institutional multi-asset liquidity including forex and cryptocurrency, as well as comprehensive cyber security solutions. We spoke to Broctagon Co-Founder and CEO, Don Guo, to learn more about the company and his plans for the future.
Don please tell us a little about your background and career to date
I started out in the retail trading space, having worked with many brokerages across the APAC region. Over the last decade, I’ve become familiar with the many industry pain points, and realised that the was a clear lack of holistic, client-centric brokerage services. I founded Broctagon Fintech Group to address these very problems.
The recent years have seen the rise of cryptocurrency trading, and with it, a new set of unique pain points like illiquidity and market fragmentation. This is why one of the most important initiatives we have launched this year is our development of the Broctagon Network of Exchanges for Universal Settlement (NEXUS), the industry’s first crypto liquidity hub that allows prime exchanges, brokers, and financial institutions alike to access the forex standard of deep, multilateral, ECN liquidity for the first time ever.
On top of all that, we’ve made integration with the NEXUS seamless for our brokers, having utilised the FIX API standard for all our crypto liquidity provision.
When was Broctagon launched and what range of FX products and services does the firm offer?
Broctagon was launched in 2009 with a vision to transform and elevate the brokerage industry. Forex has been our focus since the beginning, with our launch of platforms and tools that holistically enhance the trading experience for all. Our current range of FX solutions include turnkey MT4/MT5 trading solutions, a brokerage-centric CRM that consists of an integrated multi-tier affiliate system, as well as proprietary plugins like the FXColt, an automated order placement system.
On top of our brokerage services, we also provide deep enterprise-grade liquidity for a diverse range of asset classes including forex, indices, shares, metals, commodities, and cryptocurrency.
Broctagon is also a leading provider of cryptocurrency solutions so please outline what these are.
We leverage the breadth of our technology and business talent to offer token sale advisory services, smart contract development and audit, exchange setup solutions, as well as exchange listing services.
We also offer cryptocurrency derivatives which have grown extremely popular over the last couple of years. With our cryptocurrency derivatives, brokerages can access leverage of up to 1:10. The core idea is to bring the forex level of professionalism and execution quality to the cryptocurrency space.
We realised early on that there are a lot of gaps in the cryptocurrency space. We figured that liquidity is going to be a critical component for crypto trading worldwide. Our crypto liquidity aggregator NEXUS offers unmatched execution quality and depth of liquidity for businesses in the space that can bring it up to the scale and efficiency of forex.
What type of clients is Broctagon providing services for and how is the business structured to cater for them?
Our services are primarily aligned towards businesses in the forex and cryptocurrency space. Our products and solutions are ideal for brokers, fintech projects, cryptocurrency projects and more. We essentially have four core pillars to our business – brokerage solutions, multi-asset aggregated liquidity, cyber security, as well as blockchain solutions including cryptocurrency trading. Because the industry is ever-changing, we are constantly innovating to fill emerging gaps in the markets.
What do your own day-to-day responsibilities as CEO usually involve?
I look at my role as one that provides strategic direction to the company. While day-to-day responsibilities can change subject to certain specific requirements, my aim is to always remove any type of friction that stops teams from achieving their business goals efficiently. I especially have a very keen focus on newer growth areas such as crypto and liquidity solutions. I am also focused on boosting the company’s presence and reach globally.
Please tell us a little about your senior executive team and the roles they are each playing in running and growing the business?
Our senior executives play a huge role in helping the company achieve strategic goals. We have kept the dynamics of our organisation very nimble so as to ensure we are able to react quickly to the constant change that is present in our industry and move quickly when it comes to bringing new innovations to market.
Pantelis Michael, our Managing Director who has a wealth of experience in the brokerage space, oversees all our liquidity offerings as well as our custodian services for tokenised securities. Our technical team is headed by Ted Quek, whose stellar leadership has allowed us to develop a global team of tech talent across Singapore, Russia, India, and China. Another senior executive who plays a pivotal role in our organisation is Chief Marketing Officer Toby Tan, the mind behind our latest #NEXGen campaign which ushers in a new era of global crypto liquidity and elevates the crypto trading industry to the forex standard of scale and efficiency.
Beyond the senior executive team, we also have remarkable talent across the rest of our organisation. Spearheading our blockchain development team are blockchain legal specialist Nirav Gala, CFA, along with the Bitcoin Man himself, Herbert R Sim.
Many brokers remain resistant to change when it comes to their business operations and technology infrastructures. How has Broctagon gone about trying to encourage them to be more forward-thinking and grasp the exciting business opportunities and competitive advantages that new technologies can deliver?
Absolutely, yes. We will be honest to admit that it is not easy to convince brokers to upgrade from legacy platforms that have been their core revenue driver for so many years. However, we try to supplement our argument with metrics that can be the most impacted by new-age technologies and how it can benefit their business directly. We show them how they can attain first-mover advantage and be ahead of competition if they harnessed new technologies. Our strategy is to not to change the way brokerages operate, but to build off their existing strengths and create value through innovations that will enhance their product and platform offerings.
How much flexibility do you go about catering for the differing requirements of brokers and help them to configure and customise solutions specific to their needs?
Flexibility is one of our strengths and we go a long way in giving our clients access to products and solutions that absolutely fit their needs. This strength is not limited to technical innovation – we also bring to the table a wealth of experience in the FX brokerage space and a decade of strong networks in the APAC markets.
What our clients appreciate the most is how our team provides sound, down-to-earth business advice which is always value-adding due to the fact that we are well versed in traditional finance while also ready to usher in a new age of trading. One of our most prominent clients is the GSX Group, who have leveraged on our expertise and brought to market a cutting-edge digital asset exchange, the GBX-DAX.
Broctagon currently offers clients modular FX technology solutions, mainly for MT4/5 brokerages and also a full turnkey brokerage system. What features and services are offered with that?
We offer secure, transparent, personalised and advanced technology solutions. Our systems are built for each brokerage’s specific requirements with bespoke branding to enable a completely unique experience for each client. We also bring to the table a wide spectrum of charting tools that are ideal for both beginners and advanced traders.
We are always looking to stay ahead of the latest trends with a focus on constantly integrating new innovations into our existing systems. It is this approach which has led us to the expanded offering of cryptocurrency CFDs in a robust trading platform that is fully integrated with a cryptocurrency wallet.
How much demand are you seeing for multi-asset trading amongst retail FX market participants and why is the industry, especially in Asia, moving away from a purely FX proposition?
We have definitely seen a surge in the number of brokers wanting to offer trading systems that cater to multiple assets. The demand is primarily driven on the buy-side by institutional investors who are promoting multi-assets as a way to capture growth in an uncertain ‘interest rate’ and regulatory environment worldwide. This is especially true for Asia which has an increasing economic clout. Products like crypto CFDs are offering product differentiation, a new avenue for hedging and true 24/7 trading, not available in other markets. Earlier, brokers could differentiate themselves with tight spreads and execution speeds. But with that becoming the default for most good trading systems, multi-asset offerings can be the next big competitive differentiator, especially in Asia, where many traders have a strong interest in stocks, commodities, and equities.
In what major ways have you seen the key platform and technology requirements of retail brokers changing over the past couple of years and how has Broctagon responded to this by adapting your own product mix?
Apart from building capabilities for multi-asset offerings, brokers are now heavily investing in creating a trading environment that priorities high executions speeds, more automation in trading workflows, and more variety in products.
Improved technological solutions are also helping access and distribute FX liquidity more efficiently than before. A regulated liquidity pool, such as the one offered by us, allows brokers to offer high-speed and low latency trading to their clients. Application Programming Interface (API) is also an extremely powerful tool which we have leveraged in our global crypto liquidity aggregator – NEXUS – to access liquidity from prime crypto exchanges and distribute it across a network of brokers.
Let’s talk about the MT5 platform. Are as many brokers migrating over to it as you expected and is MT4 likely to remain popular and in use for many years to come?
Many think of MT5 as a new platform, but it has already been in existence for almost nine years. Having spent time understanding the platform, we can positively state that MT5 is the platform to move towards. We see the change coming and more brokers are now seeing the benefits associated with this platform including enhanced system security with distribute back-end architecture, built-in order routing with partial order filling capabilities, as well as expansion of supported markets including futures, options, stocks and bonds for flexible multi-asset trading.
Building on this, we have developed an exchange engine within the MT5 that makes trading easier and more accessible than ever before, in addition to supporting multi-asset trading such as crypto-denominated pairs. The best part is, all this is perfectly integrated with a platform that is familiar to many brokerages from around the world.
In what ways do you see the cryptocurrency trading space evolving and how are you positioning Broctagon to meet demand for new crypto products, liquidity, trading venues and business services?
We are seeing a lot of interest for crypto derivatives products as it takes away some of the disadvantages associated with traditional crypto trading on exchanges – hacks, private key management, asset storage, higher spreads, low liquidity and limited profits. Going forth, we will increasingly see the forex standard of professional trading in the crypto space as well. We are seeing a lot of interest from cryptocurrency trading to have the benefits of forex trading, such as margin trading and leverage. We have been one of the early movers in the space and offer a whole suite of products and services. Our crypto liquidity aggregator – NEXUS – has seen strong demand from FX brokers and crypto exchanges worldwide.
Over the years, what accreditation has Broctagon earned?
We are internationally recognised by HKQAA, CNAS, as well as UKAS for meeting all requirements of the ISO standard. Our certifications include Quality Management Systems ISO 9001:2015, IT Service Management ISO/IEC 20000, and Information Security Standards ISO/IEC 270001.
Our team security certifications include GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN), GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), Offensive Security Certified Expert (OSCE) and eLearnSecurity Web application Penetration Tester (eWPT). These certifications, among many other accolades such as Best Liquidity Provider 2019 awarded by the Global Financial Derivatives Conference, are a reflection of our commitment towards holding ourselves against the highest and strictest standards of customer-centricity, best practices in operational processes, as well as information security.
How does the Broctagon business model assist retail FX providers to secure and future proof their business and technology needs to ensure they are on a continuous performance upgrade path and remain state of the art, flexible and scalable enough?
Future-proofing requires moving with the times, instead of sticking to legacy technologies. We only need to go back a few pages in history to know that businesses who did not upgrade lost out to more nimble upstarts. Our solutions are geared to be tailored according to our client’s individual needs.
Our forward-thinking approach is not limited to technological innovation. We firmly believe in growing, as a company, together with all our staff. The power of technology can only go as far as the person developing and managing it, which is why we make it a priority for us to offer our staff constant opportunities for skill upgrading. It is only with continual self-improvement that we can harness the full potential of technology.
A topic we often talk about in e-Forex is cyber security and the need to safeguard data. What solutions does Broctagon offer to help protect trading firms from cyber threats?
Security is assuming greater significance as the forex industry move towards digital transformation. We offer a range of system security solutions for forex businesses. Our MT4/5 Data Centre Security solutions helps businesses secure their virtual, cloud, physical and hybrid data environments.
We have optimised solutions that secure MT4/5 data centres from malicious attacks. This security solution allows for normal traffic to continue while the malicious threat is being handled. This is key for us, as it is important that our brokers are able to carry on their business during such times without any downtime or interference.
We also offer system penetration testing to full protection of digital assets against vulnerabilities. Our team helps you to establish test parameters, execute ethical hack procedures and generate test reports with actionable insights.
Every now and then the markets are thrown into crisis by something completely unexpected. How does Broctagon help to protect financial trading firms from future “black swan” and disruptive events?
Each of our business solutions come armed with features that help protect FX and cryptocurrency businesses from disruptive industry events. In addition to having a highly dynamic dealing team, we offer negative balance protection as part of our brokerage solutions as well to ensure that our clients will always be able to create the most optimal trading environment for their traders. We have also been recognised as an industry leading expert in fintech and blockchain system security through multiple certifications.
What steps has Broctagon been taking to seek out and partner with other technology vendors and trading system providers who can deliver additional services to support your own offerings?
Broctagon is always looking at synergies to provide a more robust collaborative solution to our clients. The industry is so vast that no one service provider can provide complete coverage of all market segments. This is why we strongly believe in strategic partnerships that can elevate the industry as a whole, regardless of prevailing market conditions.
We have forged strong relationships with a lot of brokers for NEXUS to advance the cryptocurrency industry forward. Recently, we also became a technology partner in the Amazon Web Services Network.
Additionally, Broctagon was the founding member of the Association of Blockchain Development, in addition to being part of the Singapore Fintech Association and the Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups.
These partnerships help us leverage the knowledge and expertise of other members of the community and forge stronger relationships with other potential partners. This is also why our business development team is always on the lookout for global collaborations – we always joke that they spend half their time in the air travelling.
How will you be looking to strengthen your global presence during 2019 and what plans do you have for launching new products and services?
Broctagon already has a strong presence in six countries across the globe. This year, we plan to reach out to newer markets and showcase our solutions to the businesses in the regions. We are already looking at the next big trends such as algorithmic and social trading.
We are going to work towards tackling regulation across the globe and building compliant products that can work for any jurisdiction. On top of all that, we are also looking to launch legal and technology services for Security Token Offerings (STOs), develop more robust and optimised trading systems, link quality blockchain projects to renowned investors, as well as further expand our liquidity offerings.
In short, we want to position Broctagon as a global company that’s always seeking to offer greater value to our clients and the industry on a whole.