Online trading transformed the brokerage industry, and now cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence are expected to change it again as the brokerages vie for the next generation of wealth.
That’s the view of TradeStation’s director of innovation and strategy James Putra, who said in an interview that much of the focus is on enhancing the experience for clients – whether they are investing via a mobile device or desktop computer. “If you look at all the technology the firms are going after, most of us are really looking at those things that can help us better serve customers,” said Putra.
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It’s All About the Customer Experience
Take chatbots and artificial intelligence for starters. According to the TradeStation executive, brokerages will increasingly move to embrace AI to provide more personalized experiences for users that can anticipate what the client wants and/or needs. By incorporating AI into the call center, for example, brokerages will be better prepared to answer questions, with the AI solutions listening in the background and offering up relevant advice and information to the call center operator. With chatbots, brokerages will be able to serve their customers in multiple settings as the investors go about their day.
Consider a day in the life of an investor. He or she may wake up and check a mobile app, then go to the desktop platform to execute a trade and then get into the car to commute to an office where a voice-activated system is keeping the investor abreast of the market-moving news. “We see this very fluid in how we interact” with the customer, said Putra. “Companies who are best positioned to handle those interactions provide a much better experience. Google and Amazon set a standard. Brokerages who can’t get there will lose customers.”
In addition, with the growth of augmented reality down the road, Putra painted a picture in which users will have access to data that is contextual to their surroundings as they go about their day. That means you could be on line at the drug store and view an augmented reality chart of how the business is performing financially.
“Driving, shopping, walking, working – all of these activities will create opportunities to view relevant and actionable data for the user,” said the TradeStation executive. “While you are getting coffee at your local Starbucks, you should be able to view data about the company that can help you get to an investing decision.” Augmented reality will also help on the customer service front. For example, with augmented reality, a customer service rep can walk a customer through a software tool and call out features in the user’s field of view, Putra said.
Crypto and Blockchain the Big Disrupter
Earlier on Tuesday, July 24, the price of bitcoin crossed the $8,000 mark for the first time since May. According to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index, the virtual currency was trading at $8,015 on Tuesday morning, which the website noted is a level not reached since May 24. On June 24, bitcoin hit a new low for the year, trading at $5,785, and it has been climbing back up since then. The cryptocurrency is now 40% higher since the June low.
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