According to market participants, WhatsApp’s almost six-hour outage on Monday disrupted trade of assets ranging from cryptocurrency to Russian oil, however a swift switch to other platforms such as Telegram prevented major disruption.
Despite many financial institutions banning workers from using messaging services such as WhatsApp and other Facebook platforms that went down on Monday, dealers engaging with customers in over-the-counter (OTC) markets have found them useful.
In the largest-ever outage documented by online monitoring organization Downdetector, Facebook blamed a “faulty configuration update” for the outage that impacted WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
BCB Group, a London-based crypto company that provides OTC trading and other services, was one of the companies affected. Around noon Eastern time (1600 GMT), Facebook’s servers went offline, disrupting a critical trading window for BCB.
“The WhatsApp outage occurred at our peak trading period, when we are dealing with US counterparties,” said CEO Oliver von-Landsberg Sadie.
“Volume was down 15% on a daily basis, which we’re blaming on connectivity difficulties inside. Trading on Telegram and Slack matched daily averages.”
According to VoxSmart CEO Oliver Blower, WhatsApp usage among financial traders has increased as banks understand that consumers want to use the platform even though their managers prefer their employees to utilize official chat channels.
According to Blower, the app has become the “default messaging service” in several regions, particularly in continental Europe and Asia-Pacific.
VoxSmart now records between three and five million communications weekly across asset classes, including between banks and buy-side clients, after starting with 2,000 interdealer users exchanging 10,000 messages each day in the energy market in 2016.
“The number and nature of the communications are both fascinating. It’s not just, when are you going to ‘The Dog and Duck,’ it’s, how much do you want for a 5-year? “Blower used slang for a British bar when he stated this.
The Move To Telegram Begins
Despite this, the ubiquity of messaging services outside of WhatsApp meant that Monday’s downtime was more of an annoyance than a big inconvenience.
For example, in India, market chatter on WhatsApp has shifted to Telegram, which has less limits on group conversation size. The disruption occurred after most Asian markets had closed, minimizing the impact.
“Crypto OTC trading occurs primarily on Telegram or WhatsApp in the Middle East,” said Zachary Cefaratti, CEO of Dubai investing platform Dalma Capital, “where you ask your OTC brokers for bid and offer, and then you hit it and they’ll confirm the transaction.”
OTC traders in the oil markets were also impacted, albeit the impact was mitigated by the use of other platforms.
Oil merchants in Russia claimed WhatsApp was often used to transmit order information throughout Europe and Asia. One European trader described Monday’s outage as a “unpleasant surprise.”
“It wasn’t pleasant. It is used by everyone. However, we also use different messengers, therefore we’ve switched “another person stated.