Serious users of information in the financial market sectors have traditionally relied on dedicated telecommunications lines into a trading site, with a server on site, middleware for distribution, and desktop viewing software. Now, Reuters has taken the first step toward eliminating that cumbersome infrastructure and significantly lowering the costs for all involved in distributing and receiving information. Reuters Inform (http://www.reutersinform.com) is the new Reuters corporate-wide framework for delivering real-time news and information entirely on the public Internet.
The first two products in this new platform have just been launched, one targeted at the North American power market, the other at the global agrimarkets. Both modules offer comprehensive market prices, continuously updated breaking news, 14-day historical news, charts, weather maps, and online chat and discussion forums. The automatically displayed news from Reuters is specific to the market sector with some additional general news. Further product modules for the commodities and energy markets will be available later this year, with modules for other markets being launched in 2000.
According to a company representative, a key component of the new Reuters Inform products is that the entire transaction occurs on the Internet. Potential users can go to the Reuters Inform site, view an online animated product demonstration, sign up for a free 14-day trial, pay for the service by credit card, receive all the news and information via the Net, and obtain online customer support. This model works very well for smaller and geographically dispersed customers, hence the choice of the two market segments for the first two products. Corporate billing and invoicing capabilities that are needed by larger customers will come later, as Reuters continues to develop its e-commerce capabilities.
Martin Wadhwani, global head of commodities and energy for Reuters Information, commented: "Reuters Inform is an exciting, new, easy-to-use and affordable service. It extends the reach of our premium news and data to new audiences via the Internet, who previously have found telecommunications charges prohibitive. For the first time, smaller market participants will be able to compete on a level playing field with the larger trading organizations."
Devin Wenig, executive vice president of marketing at Reuters America, said: "The introduction of Inform represents the realization of our vision of using the public Internet to deliver financial information solutions. This will be the first salvo in our planned campaign to bring more of our information products onto the Internet, meeting our clients' needs for cost-effective delivery and targeted applications, and creating communities of users with common needs and interests."
Reuters Inform North American Power provides real-time news and information focusing on the increasingly competitive North American power industry. According to the company, the product has been extensively tested with major energy trading firms and utilities. Users at Enermet, an energy consulting company, have been beta testing the product since last spring. George Mahama spoke enthusiastically about the new product's features and support, calling it a "very user-friendly product." He pointed out the benefits of not having to rely on network people and of being able to acquire data flexibly from anywhere he happened to be—at home or travelling. The dedicated-line Reuters product, Energy 2000, is still used at Enermet for multiple screening and for easy import of data into spreadsheets. A Reuters company representative said that importing of data would be a feature available in upcoming versions of Reuters Inform.
After the 14-day free trial for Reuters Inform, the basic service for North American Power is available for $225 per month, plus additional charges for exchange fees. The basic agricultural markets product costs $175 per month, plus exchange fees. An option to search a 90-day news archive in both products adds a fee of $25 per month. Most exchanges require a fee to access their futures and options data in real-time; this real-time data is available during the free trial and for subscribers to both products as a chargeable extra.