The rise of mobile trading

The popularity of trading on mobiles has risen massively over recent years. Here, we take a look at our platform use and what the future of mobile trading could be.

Source: Bloomberg

Today you can trade on almost any device you like, with trading apps available on iPhone, iPad and Android.

But it wasn’t always like this. Before the IG app was first introduced for iPhone in 2008, mobile trading apps were rare. Our platform, for instance, was only accessible via your phone’s internet browser, which could be slow and lose connection easily.

That may explain why just 5% of trades took place on a mobile back in 2007: a sharp contrast to the highs of 36% in 2017.1 But how has the rise of mobile trading changed the face of finance — and what the future could look like?

A more successful way to trade

In general, mobile users spend more and make more (or lose less) than their web-based counterparts.

Mobile trading was not initially viewed as a viable alternative to desktop trading. But as technology has become more advanced — with faster processing and larger screens — the mobile platform has become a full trading experience. With traders now confident in the capabilities of mobile, it is little wonder they are beginning to use it to its full potential.

Though mobile trading has overtaken desktop in both value and volume, as 58% of traders are multi-platform users, it is still important to maintain a consistent and quality user experience across all platforms.

24-hour access to 24-hour markets

The rise of mobile has brought about a shift in trading styles. Traders are no longer bound to their desktops, but are able to buy or sell thousands of markets anywhere, anytime.

Some of the most popular products among mobile users are forex and indices: markets that are often open all the time. Together, forex and futures (including indices and commodities) made up 86% of all mobile trades in November 2017, compared with 80% of web-based trades.

The use of trading apps surrounding high-volatility events has also increased. For example, UK mobile trading over Brexit peaked between 2am and 5am, with IG clients using their mobiles to take advantage of market movements as results came in overnight.

The rise of millennials

Mobile trading has increased across all ages, but it has attracted a specific set of clientele: millennials.

Millennials have previously been reluctant to trade and invest, but mobile apps are set to bridge the gap by making financial decisions less daunting. A recent survey in America found that over one third of millennials would trust an app more than traditional means of investment.

The same appears to be true for trading: on average, millennials are 17% more likely to use a mobile to trade than their desktop. Over Brexit, 59.3% of UK traders aged in their 30s used a mobile device to trade – compared to 28.7% of traders aged in their 60s.

The future of mobile trading

Considering the vast changes that have occurred within the past ten years alone, it should come as no surprise that mobile technology is set to bring even more changes to the industry. But what form might they take?

Better mobile accessibility

Since the first data network, ‘2G’, was introduced in 1993, access to the internet has come in many forms, each faster and more accessible than the last. As this trend continues, traders should be able to access markets faster, with even more information available at their fingers.

Similarly, we are expected to see developments in battery life of mobiles. A lot of manufacturers are now focusing on advancing the length of time their products can run for. For example, the iPhone X holds two hours more battery than its predecessors, with an expected 14 hours of internet use – six more hours than the first iPhone. Within a few years, this progression could see users having two days of battery life — though the dream of a week without charging still seems a long way off.

More advanced hardware

Manufacturers are also looking to improve other areas of mobile hardware. For example, the introduction of split screen technology into a new generation of mobile phones means users can now easily move back and forth between apps, adjust the size of display and copy information from one app to another. For traders, this could compensate for the lack of multi-screen functionality that a desktop provides.

And looking further into the future, the development of foldable phones could enable traders to extend a device from phone display to tablet, increasing the size of the screen they view charts on — and offering the full functionality of desktop in a form you can carry in your pocket.

Improved mobile security

Mobile security is another area that we are likely to see massive leaps and bounds in over the next few years. Though concerns had been raised over vulnerabilities of using mobiles to trade, the development of cybersecurity is putting these fears to rest.

For example, digital wallets — the method by which money is stored and transferred on the internet — are becoming increasingly secure, the introduction of fingerprint registration and protected passwords are creating personalised security measures, and regulators are encouraging ever more secure software development.

As confidence in the security of apps grows, we could see even more traders begin to switch platforms, and the number and value of trades increase further.

Mobile use among traders is only set to grow in the next years and decades, as new generations demand new ways to access opportunities in financial markets and the needs of older generations are met. We’ve already seen rapid change in trading technology as providers try to meet this new demand – but it doesn’t look like the revolution is going to slow any time soon.

1 Using IG client data comparing mobile to desktop and multi-platform use.

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