It began as a requirement…

The regulated markets have not exactly warmed to the need to record all of a trader’s mobile calls and initial solutions were seen as slow and limited in functionality. But, according to Oliver Blower, CEO of Voxsmart, advances in the technology look to be changing all that, and even adding a business benefit – cost savings.

In 2011 the UK led the financial services world by making it a regulatory compliance requirement that all mobile calls, made by traders, had to be recorded – just like their landline calls. It wasn’t a development that was met with unbridled joy.

In fact some firms responded to the regulation by declaring compliance through abstinence. If traders were not allowed to use mobile phones on the trading floor they claimed, then the business was compliant and had no need to invest in new technology or procedures.

The inexorable rise of the smartphone, made that solution untenable. As did the fact that the rest of the world’s major financial markets began to follow the UK’s lead. In particular, the so-called Dodd Frank regulations in the USA are now in full swing and the major banks, brokers and global trading companies need a fast, workable solution worldwide.

The good news is that, in the intervening years, the available technology has moved on significantly. Initially firms trying to serve this market largely either asked companies to change network and swop-out SIM cards in order to move to a virtual network model; or – like early market-leaders, Voxsmart – insisted that the traders stay wedded to their Blackberry handsets which could be set up and controlled to make every call a three-way call – with one party being the recording device.

Of course, the once ubiquitous in the city Blackberry handset was becoming less popular. First the iPhone and then the many and varied Android devices did not so much eat into its market share, as devour it.

But that change also brought with it the power to help. The emergence of the App market created another route for the technologists to explore. Oliver Blower, now CEO of Voxsmart, says that unlocking the power of the App-based approach had some technical challenges but that the perseverance paid off.

“The thing about Apps,” he says, “is that you can turn them on and off. We needed to create an App that ran automatically in the background whenever a trader made a phone call or received a message. It had to just be there – and not be activated manually.”

Voxsmart began working with HulloMail, a company that had already developed an App to provide smartphone users with a cloud-based record, store and forward voice-messaging service.

Together the two firms developed VSmart. An Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Windows phone App that records all the communications on a mobile handset – including voice, text, and instant messaging services. The comms traffic can be recorded in the cloud or integrated to an existing recorder on site at the trading company.

But in building the service – which simply integrates to existing networks and handsets – the two companies delivered something else. VSmart takes advantage of a global point of presence network to offer virtually zero cost, secure, recorded international VoIP calls.

“When we talk with global trading companies now,” says Blower, “the conversation quickly moves on from how we record the calls, to how much money we can save them in international mobile call charges! It’s certainly changed the sales dynamic,” he adds.

IG Group, a global online trading company originally established as the world’s first spread betting company, was among the first adopters of the new solution. The company’s Head of Telephony Jon Ridgway said enabling the company to comply with financial regulations across all their global trading hubs with one system was crucial.

“We are able to centrally manage one application for call recording globally,” says Ridgway, “which creates tremendous scale and efficiency while dramatically lowering our international call costs.”

Other companies in the mobile call recording space are now looking to imitate this approach, or to devise other cloud-based approaches.

Voxsmart however is now looking further afield and exploring the potential for the technology outside of the regulated markets.

“Talking to resellers and potential channel partners,” says Blower, “it becomes clear that the solution we have now developed has applications beyond the financial services industry. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, and other professions, often need accurate records of calls, with easy retrieval. We’re certainly looking for partners who can help us address those markets.”


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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine