A consortium of Wall Street banks has launched an instant messaging platform it hopes will loosen Bloomberg's vice-like grip on the market for real-time communication between traders.
Bloomberg's dominance as the default messaging medium for traders has been under threat ever since May 2013 when it emerged that the firm had allowed its own reporters to access the firm's international network of terminals and spy on the activities of users.
The snooping scandal was uncovered by Goldman Sachs traders and the Wall Street bank is also one of the prime backers for the new venture, called Symphony Communications. The platform is the result of a merger between Goldman's own internal messaging service and a tool developed by David Gurle, who has previously worked at Skype, Reuters and Microsoft.
Symphony, already being dubbed the 'WhatsApp for banks', currently has 30,000 users on a beta version of the product and will be previewed on 3 August before the product is made available to all customers in September.
Goldman and 14 other backers, including Citi, Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Deutsche, JP Morgan and Black Rock, have invested $70 million in the new venture.
Bloomberg, which has 320,000 subscribers for its Instant Bloomberg messaging service, is not the only rival that Symphony will have to supplant. Thomson Reuters has more than 210,000 users for its Eikon service.
With an initial subscription fee of $30 a month, Symphony will be a less expensive option than the $20,000 annual fee that is required to license a Bloomberg terminal but it is likely to be the enhanced security and data encryption offered by Symphony that will appeal to traders.
Such secrecy in communication between traders may however arouse some concerns among regulators given that chatroom messages between traders were a prime source of evidence in the recent FX rigging and Libor scandals uncovered by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK.