Altitude recently built a series of foreign exchange interfaces into the TradeRiver STEPS (Secure Transaction Execution Processing System) trading platform.
These changes were designed to provide a common STEPS interface to potentially any number of external organisations that provide foreign exchange services. Individual buyers on the platform may elect to use one of the foreign exchange providers registered in STEPS (or use the default provider) allowing them to carry out trades in a number of currencies other than pounds sterling.
Foreign exchange brokers provide STEPS traders with access to an API to their trading platform that allows STEPS users to deal in trades which have a value in currencies other than pounds sterling. Currency traders use brokers to access the 24-hour currency market. These types of brokers usually operate a through the bid-ask spread of a currency pair. For example, a retail foreign exchange broker may buy U.S. Dollars for 0.7731 Pounds and, at the same time, sell U.S. Dollars for 0.7734 Pounds. The spread in this case is 0.0003, or 3 pips. Clearly the rates will change throughout the trading day and the number of pips provided by each broker will vary as the brokers pursue new clients and aim to provide better rates than their competitors.
The interfaces between STEPS and the various brokers are based on secure (HTTPS) protocols and tend to utilise a SOAP interface. This was built on the existing .NET C# MVC4 platform on which the STEPS system was originally designed.