Baltic Exchange launches trading platform

The world's largest shipbroking market, the Baltic Exchange, has launched an online trading platform in a move to streamline...

The world's largest shipbroking market, the Baltic Exchange, has launched an online trading platform in a move to streamline interaction between the various market players and to empower member brokers with a greater range of technological tools.

Launched earlier this week, was set up to provide a single platform through which the exchange's 700 member companies can search for and match potential cargoes with available ships.

Baltic Exchange, which has 250 years worth of experience, handles about 30% of all dry cargo shipments, such as coal and grain, and about 50% of crude oil fixtures, as well as the sale and purchase of much of the world's merchant fleet in a market valued last year at about $34bn (£23.6bn).

By using a standard Internet browser, shipping brokers, who frequently have to manage up to 3,000 different messages per day delivered by phone, fax, e-mail and telex, can quickly and efficiently gain access to available ships and cargoes while filtering out the mass of irrelevant messages they receive.

Another facility allows on-line trading of freight derivatives. Members can also access critical data such as daily freight market information, vessel characteristics, fixture histories and charting.

Developed by the European e-business software firm Lost Wax, the site is integrated with the exchange's internal systems and its internal shipping database. It is also interfaced with the exchange's online market information site.

Mike Elsom, development manager at the Baltic Exchange, said that although the site was a standalone entity which was not yet integrated to members' systems, it was the first step towards providing a fully integrated trading platform which would offer broker companies negotiation and transaction, or post-fixture facilities.

"Liquidity", the ability to introduce new content rapidly, would make the site a success, he said. "But more than anything else, the exchange needs to be trusted," he added.

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