RealTime IT News

Reuters Connects IM Players

Reuters today launched an instant messaging (IM) hosted service to connect the financial community in real-time to MSN Messenger and AOL services.

The federated network, Reuters Messaging 5.0, is the first professional IM service that connects the two big players in public messaging services, while straightening compliance problems that have prevented the services from being used by financial institutions.

Unlike consumer IM services, commercial IM services require features for regulatory and commercial purposes, including the archiving of conversations and storage of other information. The announcement marks an important moment for communications in the financial industry.

Providers of the three most popular consumer IM networks -- AOL's AIM, Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo Messenger -- have resisted attempts in the past to make their systems interoperable, but recent cooperation is seen as a likely step toward further integration.

"Reuters was first to introduce professional instant messaging to the financial services industry in 2002. Today we continue this innovative tradition with the launch of an important new release of Reuters Messaging," Tom Glocer, Reuters CEO, said in a statement.

In October Yahoo and Microsoft, announced plans to link their IM networks to allow MSN and Yahoo Messenger users to communicate across the two platforms, creating a global network of more than 275 million.

The new Reuters' network now provides an audit trail to ensure messages are recorded in the financial industry compliance departments, according to Reuters.

The recent changes are a result of legal and compliance issues brought about by more and more employees using both enterprise and consumer IM software. The recent Sarbanes-Oxley legislation requires secure, auditable electronic communications for companies, including instant messages.

Now users of Reuters Messaging 5.0 will be able to exchange information in a secure environment with financial professionals around the world who use these public instant-messaging services, the company said.

Having to comply with federal regulations has long hampered the use of IM, with both financial firms and IM vendors searching for an equitable system in which to operate.

As corporate interest in enterprise instant messaging peaked, moves to secure and standardize networks struggled to keep pace with regulatory requirements and general concerns that public IM networks were unsafe for businesses.

The Financial Services Instant Messaging Association has been working to bring continuity to the medium. The group of representatives from financial institutions formed in 2002 to pressure vendors into standardizing IM software for compatibility, security and other business IT needs.

Reuters says its enhanced IM system will provide access to an expanded community of more than 200 million people.

"We believe it has the potential to introduce innovative ways of working with colleagues and customers," Anshu Jain, head of Global Markets at Deutsche Bank, said in a statement.

The Reuters Messaging system is based on a Microsoft product and already has Microsoft's implementation of the SIP protocol built in.

The new system also offers hosted, secure chat rooms that can connect to internal and external communities, allowing traders to create proprietary content and share market information.