Best Challenger Exchange is a new category for Leaders in Trading this year, in which we recognise not only the ever-changing facets of the marketplace but also the plethora of new venues springing up to accommodate them.
Unsurprisingly, given the themes of 2022, digital assets did a lot of the heavy lifting in this year’s shortlist – but it’s not all about crypto, with US-based players such as MEMX driving themes of equality and investor power, while IEX is of course well-known for its stance on high frequency trading. Our shortlist this year includes Archax, FTX, Investors Exchange (IEX), Members Exchange (MEMX) and Miami International Securities Exchange (MIAX).
A new institutional-grade exchange for trading crypto/digital assets founded in 2018, Archax is the first crypto firm to be regulated by the FCA. With a majority stake acquired by abrdn in August 2022, the trading venue is clawing its way into institutional inner circles, most recently through its new partnership with METACO to deploy its digital asset custody and orchestration technology on IBM Cloud, in order to leverage the confidential computing capabilities of IBM’s digital asset infrastructure.
A digital asset exchange, brokerage and custodian based in London, Archax has big ambitions. “We see the digital asset market as a long-term investment opportunity, and at Archax we make investments in technology and processes to reflect that vision,” says CEO and co-founder Graham Rodford.
But it is also expanding outwards from pure crypto trading into the wider world of what blockchain can offer. In September, the firm partnered with BondEvalue to deliver solutions for the trading of fractional fixed income products. The partnership will enable their clients to access investment opportunities on BondEvalue’s regulated platform, the BondbloX Bond Exchange (BBX), a blockchain-based bond exchange which allows investors to conduct electronic trading of fractional bonds.
As a bridge between the traditional and DLT space, Archax is proving a worthy contender.
A cryptocurrency exchange built “by traders, for traders,” FTX Trading offers products including derivatives, options, volatility products and leveraged tokens. With a senior team comprising alumnis from Jane Street, Optiver, Susquehanna, Facebook and Google, among others, the exchange seeks to service everyone from both professional firms to first-time investors, with a platform that is both simple and sophisticated.
At the start of 2022, FTX Trading won a further $400 million in Series C funding, taking its total valuation to $32 billion – not bad for a firm only founded in May 2019, with investors including Singapore’s Temasek and Paradigm. In March of this year, the exchange expanded its presence into Europe and the Middle East with the establishment of FTX Europe, marking the next phase of its global expansion. Headquartered in Switzerland with an additional regional headquarter in Cyprus, the new company offers its products and services to European clients via a licensed investment firm with passportable licenses across the European economic area.
In the same month, the firm partnered with US-based crypto platform West Realm Shires Services to launch a new unit targeted at institutional investors – marking its commitment towards developing and supporting institutional involvement in crypto trading. FTX Access will initially provide institutional investors interested in gaining exposure to digital assets with trade execution, analytics, index products, advisory services and capital introductions, with plans to expand into custody, derivatives, structured products and other asset management products later down the line.
“Our goal is to provide services that make it easier for traders at all levels to invest in cryptocurrencies, while also meeting compliance and regulatory standards found in traditional finance,” said FTX CEO and co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, speaking at the time.
FTX also this year made a strategic investment into IEX Group, the operator of the US-based Investors’ Exchange, in order to develop a transparent market structure for the buying, selling and trading of digital asset securities. The question of crypto regulation has long been a tricky one, and FTX US has been clear about its ambitions to become a regulated exchange, working with regulators to create a platform that enables both retail and institutional engagement with digital assets.
Investor’s Exchange (IEX)
A controversial name on the exchange landscape, IEX has created some waves in recent years, but there is no question of its influence. Founded in 2012 with the intention of mitigating the impact of high frequency trading, and listing in 2017, the exchange is familiar to many as the brainchild of ex-RBC traders Brad Katsuyama and Ronan Ryan, who came to believe that that traditional stock exchanges were enabling certain trading strategies that could harm long-term investors such as mutual funds and pension funds. Debuting as a dark pool in 2013 and the subject of Michael Lewis’ notorious book Flash Boys, the exchange has since built a name for itself through its mission to give all market participants a fair and efficient trading experience.
It has developed a number of innovations including the IEX Speed Bump, designed to ensure that the exchange executes trades at the most up-to-date price, and the IEX Signal (i.e., Crumbling Quote Indicator or CQI), a machine learning-based signal that aims to protect investors from trading while prices are unstable. Since its inception, more than $8.5 trillion in shares traded on IEX Exchange have benefited from the IEX Signal.
Members Exchange (MEMX)
Claiming to be the fastest-growing US equities exchange, MEMX was founded by its own members to serve as a co-operative, collective exchange acting in the interests of its founders and their client base. Its founding members include many of the largest US retail broker-dealers, global banks, financial services firms and global market makers, such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, Citadel Securities, E*TRADE, Fidelity Investments, Morgan Stanley, TD Ameritrade, UBS and Virtu Financial. The exchange’s mission is to “increase competition, improve operational transparency, reduce fixed costs, and simplify the execution of equity trading,” and it has grown rapidly since its launch in 2020, currently accounting for around 5% of equity market share.
Its big development this year was the launch of its US options exchange, and in August the SEC issued approval for it to trade listed options. “MEMX Options will use technological advancements to increase determinism, reduce costs and drive competitive improvements for our options members, just as we did in equities,” said Jonathan Kellner, chief executive of MEMX.
“As the only exchange founded to represent the needs of market participants, expanding into a new asset class allows us to provide meaningful benefits to an even broader range of investors.”
Miami International Securities Exchange (MIAX)
MIAX operates regulated financial marketplaces across multiple asset classes and geographies. The MIAX Exchange marketplaces are enabled by in-house built, proprietary technology that was originally built to meet the high-performance quoting demands of the US options trading industry.
The group operates markets across a number of asset classes including options, futures and cash equities: including options through MIAX Options, MIAX Pearl, and MIAX Emerald; US equities through MIAX Pearl Equities; US futures and options on futures through the Minneapolis Grain Exchange; and international listings through The Bermuda Stock Exchange. Through MGEX Clearing, it also offers clearing services for US futures and options on futures. The group recently acquired Dorman Trading, a full-service Futures Commission Merchant registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Its total US multi-listed options market share reached a record 14.3% in 2021, a 21% increase from its 11.8% market share in 2020. Total US multi-listed options market share for the MIAX Exchange Group reached 11.63% in the first nine months of 2022, representing a 19.8% year-over-year decrease. A total of 97.3 million multi-listed options contracts were executed on the MIAX Exchange Group, representing an average daily volume of 4,635,039 contracts. Total year-to-date (YTD) volume reached 961.2 million contracts, a decrease of 2.8% from the same period in 2021.
In US equities, MIAX Pearl Equities reported volume of 2.8 billion shares in September 2022, representing a 101.8% increase YoY and a record monthly market share of 1.16%. Total YTD volume reached a record 22.4 billion shares, a 268.1% increase from the same period in 2021. Since launching its first options exchange in 2012, MIAX has grown to be the 15th largest global derivatives exchange operator as of 30 June 2022, as measured by the total number of futures and options contracts traded on exchanges as reported by the Futures Industry Association.
Since 2017, MIAX has been involved in ongoing litigation with Nasdaq, surrounding six claims of patent infringement. As of June 2022, these claims were invalidated by the US District Court and and Nasdaq waived its right to appeal, thus closing the case.
The winner of Best Challenger Exchange will be announced at the Leaders in Trading 2022 gala awards dinner at The Savoy Hotel on 3 November. For table enquiries, please contact Nathan Anacleto.