It’s about time! Why Sea/futures is right for now
On the face of it, creating a system that takes the forward curves sent by brokers in the FFA market – then feeds them into a screen that identifies the origin of the price and how recently it was updated – sounds simple. The benefits of such a system have been articulated by many trading organisations who are trying to filter the noise of pricing coming at them from brokers in an ever-increasing variety of ways.
The added requirement in the client wish-list has been for a way to circulate pricing to the growing “spectator” audience within organisations where FFAs are traded. This has become increasingly sought after since the tired old Nightly Reports no longer quench the thirst for minute-by-minute visibility.
Lurking just beneath the surface in these conversations is the discomfort in compliance circles around platforms such as WhatsApp. The concerns stem from the fact that these communication tools were designed for the individual consumer, rather than the corporate user, and that they permit the deletion of individual messages and whole conversations.
So, as ridiculous as it must seem, the starting place for Sea/futures was a compliant chat application; one that, unlike the existing options on the market, would work seamlessly on both desktop and mobile and be free to use. Our solution, Sea/chat, was launched initially to a small community within the dry futures arena, though it has now been adopted more widely in the shipping industry.
Sea/chat enables one-to-one, group and broadcast messaging in a way that you would expect of any messaging application. However, unlike WhatsApp, the process of inviting new users – or connecting with existing users – is through a corporate email address, rather than a mobile phone number, meaning the account will live with the company long after an individual leaves (along with their phone and message history).
Sea/futures takes the functionality of Sea/chat and makes it especially relevant to the dry FFA market. It presents the trader, or group of traders, with the broker’s forward curves as soon as they are sent. Rather than typing pricing manually into a series of cells, the curves sent to the trader via Sea/chat will be updated immediately using parsing software which accepts most of the variants and abbreviations that are in regular use.
The trader can further amend these prices manually, if they are aware of improvements to prices, by voice or other means in between updates. The broker prices appear to the trader as channels so they can instantly see, by period and contract type, what prices each broker currently has.
Like Sea/chat, Sea/futures is available on desktop or mobile and caters to the sizeable community of users who are forced, due to time differences, to trade largely after office hours. It is not a trading system, so those communications and transactions will still happen as they do today – either by voice or via chat. But, for the people within an organisation that want to have access to this price movement, Sea/futures provides a consolidated view.
It is not down to any piece of software to alter or affect the roles of any participants in the market it seeks to serve and Sea/futures is no exception. The product is there to simplify and enhance the great work already being done..
Shipping has spent too long using the “it’s complicated” excuse for a lack of innovation and a vast swathe of us are saddled with cumbersome legacy technology that we are slaves to; having to waste time manually keying-in data to dumb products that we can never see any output from. It seems the right time now to deliver products that can and will deliver what the users want. It’s time for smarter shipping, and Sea/futures is a significant milestone in making that a reality.