Financial institutions in the City of London are considering proposals for a dedicated private Internet infrastructure, which would rationalise connections to hundreds of trading and information systems like Reuters, Swift and Crest.
The scheme, put forward by Andersen Consulting, proposes the creation of a high-speed private Internet that would use common IP protocols to standardise the methods by which City banks receive market information and conduct security transactions.
Called Port, the system is expected to save financial institutions, which currently build separate computer-to-computer interfaces to all the different services, about #500 million a year.
"Reuters, Bloombergs and so on all present data in different ways. Why not set up a common infrastructure using IP?" asked Stanley Young, the project's manager at Andersen Consulting. "For firms like Reuters, it's the content, not the infrastructure it provides that is key. The infrastructure should be run as a utility."
The network would be operated by a dedicated company, also called Port, and owned by the financial institutions that receive the service. According to Young, letters will go out to these institutions at the end of this month to rustle up #2 million for a feasibility study. If all goes according to plan, there should be a blueprint for the service by the end of the year, with the first services ready for delivery by the middle of 1998.
"The idea is not to create a vast profit-making commercial utility, but to remove the inefficiencies of the existing system," said Young. "We'll probably start with simple messaging systems and slowly recruit the likes of Swift and Crest, when their infrastructures come up for replacement."
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