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Foreign Exchange

Technology: Market exercised by EBS shortcomings

Platform's embarrassing slowdowns are specific not systemic, company says.

Fears about the reliability and speed of EBS, the FX market's dominant interbank broker, have surfaced since the platform suffered a major outage on August 12. The issue is considered sufficiently serious to have been discussed at a meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's FX committee on September 8.

Many market participants believe the performance of EBS, which is owned primarily by a consortium of active FX-trading banks, has deteriorated as a result of increased access to the platform by non-bank users and black box systems.

Some feel that the system is struggling to cope with extra demand and data traffic, with the result that there are now even mutterings of the almost unthinkable – EBS is no longer automatically considered as the benchmark reference for major spot rates such as euro/dollar and dollar/yen.

Although admitting that the platform has suffered some technological failures, EBS chief executive Jack Jeffery says the broker's recent travails are one-offs rather than a systemic problem.

"The reliability and robustness of the system is our number one priority," he says. "We've had a few specific issues. The problem on August 12 was related to a specific component we'd introduced, which had functioned normally in long-term comprehensive testing to ensure it could handle volume.

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