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Tempo Rises in Global Identifier Standards Race

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Readers of Reference Data Review have known for some time that things have been heating up in the securities identifier space. We all knew that London Stock Exchange’s foray into global identifiers from domestic U.K. ones would raise a few shackles. Our own Angela Wilbraham, on Eagle Software’s European road show last month highlighted the different initiatives striving to establish a global standard. And the FISD’s Mike Atkin suggested – in his update to Redac/ RDUG members in London – that one option could be an extension of ISIN.

Sure enough, ASB – the service bureau of ANNA and authorized registry for the ISIN identifier set – has agreed to extend the numbering system in order to accommodate multiple listing, trading and settlement. It will do this by adding official place of listing (OPOL) and Market Identification Codes (MICs), supplied by its affiliate, Telekurs. This may go some way in assuaging market fears of an unstandardized future. And it may ease concerns ab-out the London exchange’s plans for world domination. But it also sets up a thrilling pitting of wits between the LSE and ASB. As the old adage goes, the bad thing about standards is that there are too many of them: whose will become the industry standard for global securities identification? And there may yet be more action to come. In his presentation, Atkin listed a raft of potential options for fixing the global standards issue, including adoption of vendor codes from the likes of Reuters or Bloomberg. Reuters has already opened up albeit limited access to its Reuters Instrument Code (RIC). It’s true that a vendor-led standard would be rife with commercial obstacles, but that doesn’t mean that one of the vendors may not try to install its ID numbers as the world’s standard. Of course, all this is sure to set the already-chattering classes a-chattering, particularly since they are all gathered this month in Singapore for Swift’s long-awaited Sibos bash. At around the same time, in Washington, many of the market data community will be gathering at the FISD’s World Financial Information Congress. So, there’ll be doubtless much more discussion on how the whole subject of global identifiers should be approached. Meanwhile, data vendors and application software providers will continue to muddle through the current maze of codes and identifiers. To help make this task a little easier, A-Team Research is publishing its Software Providers report (See item, Page 4). Sponsored by FT Interactive Data, Telekurs and Reuters, the report offers detailed profiles of data compatibility for around 100 applications. It’s an indispensable guide that warrants a place in every financial IT manager’s bookcase. We know it’ll be sitting in ours, right alongside Breaking News, the just-published expose of shenanigans at Reuters over the years. Co-author Barry Simpson assures us that a second print run is in the cards – the first sold out pretty quick – which means it should find its way to airport book stores: the perfect read for that long flight to Singapore or D.C.

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